March Scholar-Athlete of the Month: Kate Liston, Marietta

Story by-Tom Perry,  Marietta College Vice President for Communication/Brand Management

There was never a doubt that Kate Liston ’22 would be back on the court this season for the Marietta College women’s basketball team — even after a devastating knee injury in early 2021.

However, the pandemic disrupted her rehabilitation schedule and there were concerns it might set her back — especially since she couldn’t work with athletic trainer Chyrsten Gessel in person.

“It was hard finding out that I had to leave Chyrsten because she is such a positive influence during rehab,” Kate said.

Kate’s mother, Melissa, added, “She had to do a lot of things virtually. I don’t think I can say enough positive things about Chyrsten. She was always there for Kate, even at 9 o’clock at night when everything else was closed down.”

Physical therapy clinics were closed, which put much of the rehabilitation onus on Kate.

“The fact that Kate is playing right now is a direct result of her hard work, her faith, and her drive to return to the sport that she loves,” Gessel said. “Over the summer we stayed in touch through some check-ins, and I guided her as best I could virtually. She worked with a PT as well during the summer months, but always stayed in touch and sent me videos of her milestones.”

Kate has been a positive influence and is contributing to the women’s basketball team.

When the team was permitted to practice in October, Kate was limited to non-contact activities. She got cleared for 5-on-5 contact when the Pioneers returned for practice in December. Then it finally happened. Some 382 days after tearing the ACL and meniscus in her right knee against Muskingum in New Concord, Ohio, and following countless hours of rehab, Kate was back competing with her teammates in a game at Otterbein University.

“We started her out a little slow with game action, but then after our opening Otterbein series where she saw limited action in the second game, she was able to return to her old self with making big shots for us and helping us get those stops,” says Coach Kole Vivian.

Through the first three games, Kate played just one minute of action. In the fourth game, Vivian needed a spark off the bench and turned to the junior. She responded in a big way with one basket and making 9 of 10 foul shots that helped seal a victory over Baldwin Wallace 67-61.

“I can’t even describe the emotions of being back on the court and being able to help my teammates,” Kate says. “My teammates are the ultimate reason I worked so hard to get back this season. Playing with this group brings me so much joy. I don’t believe there is another program that is as special as we are.”

Vivian says the knee injury was a devastating blow to the team, but he was confident she would put in the hard work during rehab to make it back this season.

“She was able to make each of her check points during recovery, which is really difficult to do in a normal year, but then throw in COVID-19 and the struggles of finding a (physical therapist) and being able to meet with our athletic trainers regularly made it even more difficult,” he says.