Erynn Buhr didn’t know how to do a layup when she went to junior varsity girls’ basketball tryouts in Grade 9.
Three years later, the Crocus Plainsmen post knows how to do more than just that on the hardwood.
Buhr committed to join the Dakota College-Bottineau Ladyjacks women’s basketball team on Monday, something that didn’t seem plausible after she tore her left anterior cruciate ligament last May.
"I’m excited," the 18-year-old said of joining the junior college team. "I’m nervous obviously too, but I think it will be a really good experience."
A soccer-minded person when she arrived at Crocus at the age of 14, varsity girls’ basketball head coach Adam Hartman saw something in Buhr right from the outset of her time in high school.
"Erynn has come a long way," Hartman said. "She was a kid who was a soccer kid when she got here and I saw her on the first day in our Grade 9 orientation and I spotted her out very quickly and thought that she would look like a very strong athlete. So I asked her to start coming to my open gyms and just through that time with her I think we started to develop her passion for the game and from there she’s been the hardest worker ever since."
You don’t need to look beyond this season to find an example of Buhr’s determination. She had surgery to repair her ACL on Sept. 12 and was back on the basketball court in early December.
She is still working on adding strength to her knee and increasing her comfortability on it through different and more advanced training movements.
"It was a hard blow to take," Hartman said. "This kind of makes this entire story about Erynn so much better because she was able to handle that adversity and not ever feel sorry for herself and made her put on that other hard hat and go to work even more when she is healthy."
After the Plainsmen’s season ended in early March with a 62-32 loss to the Dakota Lancers in a first-round game at AAAA provincials, Buhr sent out a handful of recruit forms to post-secondary institutions.
The Ladyjacks and head coach Wayne Johnson replied to the five-foot-eight, 150-pound Buhr saying they were interested.
She went down to Bottineau, N.D., for a campus visit in late April and liked what she saw. An offer to play basketball in the small town soon emerged.
She plans to take two years of science in pre-veterinary studies at Dakota College with a long-term goal of becoming a veterinarian.
Predominantly a post player with the Plainsmen, including her last two seasons on the varsity team under Hartman, Buhr has been working on developing her guard skills.
"(Johnson) knows I’m more experienced in the post than in a guard position but he’d like me to work on my shot a lot more," she said. "He likes my shot right now and he’d like to extend that a little more so I could become a three-point shooter."
"I’m a physical player always getting after rebounds … but I’m working on being more comfortable with the ball in the guard position outside the three-point line and not turning it over there."
And while Buhr’s impending graduation from Crocus will leave a big hole in the Plainsmen’s starting lineup next season, Hartman couldn’t be more proud of the girl who used to not know what a layup was.
"Dakota College is very lucky to have a girl like her because she’s a great kid," Hartman said. "She’s a great teammate, she’s a very good student and she’s going to accomplish whatever goals she sets for herself."