BILLINGS — Kola Bad Bear is not a bitter person. But she admittedly felt that way for a big chunk of her senior year.
“Yeah, I was so bitter and full of hate in the beginning when I tore it,” Bad Bear smiled months later recalling the end of her high school athletic career.
The multi-sport Billings Senior athlete showcased an excellent career in basketball and volleyball, playing varsity in both since her freshman year.
But during an October volleyball match against Belgrade, the 6-foot-2 middle blocker, who led Class AA in kills per set at the time, tore her ACL on what then-Broncs coach Sue Dvorak called a routine slide, one that she “has hit hundreds of times.”
Bad Bear missed the rest of Senior’s volleyball season and the entirety of what was supposed to be her basketball swan song — that after leading Class AA in scoring as a junior with 16.8 points per game.
It took a while to let go of the misery.
“I don’t know, I was just like a whole different person,” she said. “I have never had so much hate in me. All my opportunities for senior year just got taken, you know. So, that was really tough for me. Honestly, like two or three months afterward, I was like, ‘OK, I can do this, I’ll be fine.'”
And she is, grinding through physical therapy well ahead of schedule. Prior to her injury, Bad Bear had 12 Division I offers. She chose basketball at Montana State.
“Baby” Bear is the third sister to be named a finalist for the Athlete of the Year Award following sisters Naomi and Courtney.
The Midland Roundtable will announce one male and one female winner from Billings during its Athlete of the Year banquet on Wednesday, May 15, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.