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NSU’s Skyla Osceola doesn’t allow injuries to keep her down

Point guard from Hollywood Reservation scored 17 points vs FAU

DAVIE — It’s a good thing Skyla Osceola can find silver linings in injuries because the Nova Southeastern University point guard from the Hollywood Reservation has had to overcome more than her fair share of obstacles in her playing career, including another injury to start this season.

She’s become accustomed to dealing with injuries – she missed a full season in high school and another one last year at NSU – but rather than sulk while healing and rehabbing she looks for ways to improve her game while always carrying an optimistic outlook.

“I think my injuries have made me play a lot smarter,” she said. “I’m not the quickest or the fastest, but it definitely makes me understand more angles better because basketball is all angles.

The more I can anticipate where the person is going to go the quicker I can get there and cut them off.”

Skyla Osceola, second from right, and the rest of the Nova Southeastern University bench erupt with joy while cheering for their teammates in the Sharks’ 81-66 win against Bentley University on Nov. 18 at Rick Case Arena on the NSU campus in Davie. Osceola did not play due to an injury. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Osceola’s comment came a couple days after NSU faced Florida Atlantic University on Nov. 2 in an exhibition game in Boca Raton.

It marked Osceola’s first game action since February 2018. Although FAU, a Division I program, cruised past Division II NSU, 91-65, Osceola’s return was chock full of encouraging signs.

She scored a team-high 17 points thanks to a sharp shooting night that saw her go 5-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from the foul line.

“In the beginning I was a little nervous,” she said. “When I went in I was a little rusty, but after I came out and caught a breather I relaxed and I was like ‘I’m just playing.

I’ve got nothing to lose; it’s just an exhibition game. I’m going to out and do the best I can.’”

Being back on the court signaled a personal triumph for Osceola, who was sidelined for the entire 2018-19 season with a torn plantar fascia in her left foot; that’s the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes.

“It had been over a year-and-a-half since I had played and I really missed it,” she said. “I think that first game showed how hard I’ve been working and how much work I’ve put in to perform when I came back.”

But the joy of being back on the court didn’t last long. In the team’s second regular season game – an 85-78 loss to Delta State on Nov. 9 in Cleveland, Miss. – Osceola suffered a left knee injury late in the game.

“I was playing defense and I stopped to plant and it just buckled on me,” she said.

Osceola said the initial prognosis was a partial tear in her ACL. She hoped to be back in about four weeks providing further damage wasn’t discovered with additional testing.

Osceola, who has previously had surgery on both her knees, can’t seem to shake the injury bug.

“Adversity is really testing me,” she said.

Her health and her play were good as a freshman in 2017-18 when she led NSU with a team-high 90 assists and posted a 3.33 assist-turnover ratio, which was best in its conference and ranked second in the nation.

Despite having to deal with another injury this season, Osceola remains an upbeat, positive-thinking leader for the Sharks.

After cheering for her teammates from the bench in NSU’s home opener on Nov. 18 at Rick Case Arena – an 81-66 win against Bentley University – Osceola praised the play of her team.

“I was really proud of them. We struggled the first two games and we bounced back really well,” she said.

Osceola, too, will have to bounce back. “My main goal is to be healthy once conference time comes around,” she said.

NSU plays in the Sunshine State Conference. The early part of the season includes several games against non-conference foes.

“It’s a difficult schedule,” she said. “We’re playing a lot of nationally ranked teams, which is great for us because that will help us in the long run when we get ready for playoffs.”

NSU finished 21-12 last season and reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.

Osceola, a junior, has three years of basketball eligibility left, including this season. Her major is exercise sports sciences.

Although she’s not certain yet what career path she wants to pursue, she knows that she wants to coach after her playing days end.

She already has experience within the Tribe having coached high school players in Native tournaments and younger players at youth camps.

She said she plans to graduate next year and then perhaps pursue a master’s degree.

As for basketball, she said she won’t let her most recent injury derail her playing career.

“It doesn’t get easier,” she said, “but you kind of get used to it.”