HAMDEN, Conn. (BVM) — Despite the setbacks in her basketball career, including multiple surgeries and having to start fresh after transferring, Quinnipiac junior guard, Makenzie Helms, has settled into her role during her first season as a Bobcat.
Helm’s collegiate basketball journey started with the University of Nebraska women’s basketball team. But her collegiate career would have to be put on hold due to compartment syndrome in her legs. This impacted her freshman year, as she had just recovered from her second surgery. Helms only played 16 games with the Huskers before deciding to transfer.
“All setbacks mean that there’s just something much better for the future [to come],” Helms said. “I really can’t complain much anymore. I’ve been feeling really good.”
When she transferred, she wanted to be close to home and was looking for a fresh start. Helms decided to transfer to Quinnipiac University, which is about 15 minutes from her hometown of East Haven, Conn. At East Haven High School, Helms won the 2018-19 Gatorade Connecticut Basketball Player of the Year in her senior year.
Closing out her senior year, Helms had her second surgery. Her rehab from the first surgery didn’t go as well as expected, so the second surgery was crucial to returning to the basketball court.
“It was really tough to be out and have to watch. I wanted to be out on the court,” Helms said of her recovery. “I think I went through some really hard times, but through them, I’m really happy [with] my situation right now.”
After her rehab went well, she was able to play for Nebraska as a freshman.
“I think I really learned patience,” Helms said. “And I learned that I really do need to take time off when I need it.”
Helms’s transition to Quinnipiac went smoothly and was helped by her Quinnipiac teammates and coaches, as well as her family which she now was close to again after two years in Nebraska. She debuted as a Bobcat in Nov. 2021.
“I really haven’t ever been on a team that’s this close with each other, on and off the court. That’s something I can really appreciate,” Helms described. “Change is definitely difficult, but I’m still getting my motor back and getting my confidence up to where I need it to be.”
Helms is a criminal justice major, inspired by her father who retired after a career in law enforcement. She credits both Quinnipiac and Nebraska for helping her stay focused on academics as well as basketball.
“I really did like being on my own for a little while. Even though I did miss home. It’s something that I learned a lot from,” Helms said. “Coming back here, I think my confidence has really grown from what it was. And I think that with each day, it still does grow. I’m around a really good group of girls.”
During her first season at Quinnipiac, Helms has seen a big increase in minutes and efficiency compared to her statistics at Nebraska. She credits her increased production to her individual work over the summer. And she’s ready to prove she has a lot left in the tank.
“I think potential is a dangerous word. I think that goes for every single one of us on the team,” Helms said. “Our team is still getting better at showing what we can really do each day. I have high hopes and I think that the future is bright, not just for me, but for us as a team. The more we gel on the court, the more people are going to see just what’s coming.”