By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Lady Panthers’ basketball season has been a great success this year and a large part of it has been because of Blair Lord’s senior leadership on and off the court.
When Lord went down with an ankle injury in the Lampasas game on Jan. 14, she didn’t let the injury that ended her career at Liberty Hill stop her from pursing her post-graduation goals and desire to help her teammates get better on their way to a co-district championship.
Lord is the heart and soul of the Lady Panthers’ team and any one of her teammates and coaches would agree. But the thing that makes Lord a great player and is Lord’s greatest quality is her toughness and passion for the game of basketball.
How tough is Blair Lord? Well she played through the entire season with the injury after originally hurting her ankle in the preseason. Lord had the team trainer monitor and watch her minutes, but she continued to fight through the pain, leading her team to wins and contributing to the stat sheet by leading in rebounds. She didn’t slow down until her ankle popped during a game, which caused Lord to not be able to walk. Lord went for an MRI and the unfortunate news finally kept her off the floor. The news: a fracture, dislocated bone and torn ligament.
“I injured it late in preseason,” said Lord. “As the season progressed and especially when we got to district it started getting worse. I was missing more practice time and getting pulled out of games faster.”
Now Lord, who hopes to one day be a basketball coach, has embraced her situation by helping Head Coach Matt Kirschner coach the team from her own unique player-perspective.
That perspective has allowed Lord to connect on a deeper level with the girls and get Coach Kirschner’s message across in spectacular ways that have helped the Panthers get better and better as they drove deeper into the district championship race.
“Blair is such a huge part of our success,” said Kirschner. “Even though her injury cut her season short, she still is our emotional leader. She understands the girls and me and is a big help in our success. She will be extremely missed next year and it has been an honor to coach a student athlete like her. She is a player coach on the bench, by giving me what she sees from a player’s perspective and also coaching up her teammates on the bench.”
Lord’s passion for coaching comes from attending basketball camps at Baylor University, which she has attended since fifth grade, and where she hopes to be a team manager for the Baylor Lady Bears following her graduation from Liberty Hill. That dream is a real possibility after the strong relationship Lord has built with the Baylor coaches over the years through attending the camps, she said.
Lord’s coaches and teammates aren’t the only ones that have taken notice of her friendly personality. Lord was voted Homecoming Queen in 2013. Lord described winning the crown as a big shock.
“This senior year has been a big surprise,” Lord said. “I’ve had a lot of things happen this year that I wouldn’t have expected. Homecoming Queen and competing in cross country and then my basketball season. I didn’t expect Homecoming Queen at all. And everyone kept telling me that I really deserved it. It was a really humbling experience to hear them tell me that.”
Basketball has been a part of Lord for several generations in her family, beginning with her grandfather, Jim Reid, who was enshrined into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 as a coach. Lord’s mother was a state championship player in basketball.
“I’ve grown up in a gym and basketball has been around me my whole life,” Lord said. “My uncle is a coach right now, too. So it’s definitely in my genes.”
Lord’s biggest influence in her basketball career has been from two people, her mother and her brother. Lord describes her mother’s love for the game and coaching abilities as the main reason for her passion and desire to compete in basketball.
The other influence has been her 6’8” brother Zach Lord who plays for the Runnin’ Panthers basketball team as a freshman. Lord says that she and her brother play all the time and it’s helped her become more physical and tough on the court. According to Lord, that sibling competition has made her a better player.