Nixa girls basketball

Gabby Nielsen and the Lady Eagles entertain Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Friday.

As Gabby Nielsen is getting used to her new role as Nixa’s go-to girl, the senior point guard says to get used to her new look.

Nielsen has actually had a balayage of pink and blonde highlights in her hair for a couple months now. But, of course, it’s still a new look to most of the Lady Eagles’ supporters and other hoops fans around the area.

“I did it in October, so it was kind of perfect timing,” Nielsen said in reference to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “I decided before Homecoming that I wanted pink hair to go with my black dress, so I did it.”

She likes the look, quite a bit. 

“It will not be going away anytime soon,” Nielsen said. “I just got some pink shampoo to keep it in.”

Nielsen also could have gone for purple to celebrate her signing with Truman State in November. 

Brie Daniels, a former Truman State and Hollister standout and currently a graduate assistant for the Lady Bulldogs, helped in the recruiting of Nielsen to play her college ball in Kirksville.

Nielsen can go back to a broken left ankle she suffered prior to her freshman year as the beginning of her road to Truman State. She actually broke the same ankle twice within a year and learned after her freshman season she played with an avulsion fracture.

Her rehab triggered her interest in pursuing an exercise science major in college.

“I’ve known I wanted to do that since my freshman year, after I had my first broken ankle,” Nielsen said. “I (rehabbed) at Healthtrax and have loved what they do. Ever since then, I have known that’s what I want to do. (Truman State’s) athletic training programs is one of the best around here.”

She went through an appendectomy midway through last season, but her ankles have held up the last two years. However, Nielsen treats them daily with care, allowing her to make countless shuffles and cuts on the court.

“I still put a lot of work into my ankles,” she said. “I have workout programs I go through specifically for my ankles. I do a lot of strengthening for them because they hurt. They don’t feel great all the time.”

Nielsen will not have Emily Edwards as her backcourt ‘mate most of the time this season. Edwards, who was Nixa’s leading scorer and an All-COC First-Team choice last season, can likely be counted on for periods of playing time of only a minute or two following surgery to place a heart defibrillator in her chest.

Thus, Nielsen figures to be as much a scorer as a distributor. She averaged 12 points and 3.9 assists a game last season.

“Last year, I kind of stepped into a role of a scorer,” Nielsen said. “It wasn’t that way my sophomore year, when I was about defense and passing the ball. Last year, I became a little more of a shooter. But we still had Emily to be our main scorer. This year, I’m going to have to step it up and score more. I feel pressure to lead the team, especially with Emily not being on the court all the time.”

Nielsen and the Lady Eagles (1-0) will be at home Friday to face Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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