MAPLETON, Ill. — Life without basketball begins for Taylor Bruninga.
Just days after deciding a chronic foot injury is too risky to deal with as a college basketball player, the Illinois State redshirt sophomore junior is at peace with his decision to end his playing career.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life so far. It’s the right decision to make. I’ll be thankful in the long run,” said Bruninga. “It’s probably the best thing in the long run, for my long-term health, is to stop now before anything more extreme happens and something really bad happens to it.”
Bruninga suffered a stress fracture in his left foot at the start of his sophomore year in September 2018. He missed all of that season and most of his 2019-20 season with recurring foot problems.
Ironically, the former Illini Bluffs High School three-sport star doesn’t ever remember missing youth, junior high or high school games due to injury. Yet Bruninga has no regrets his college career was cut short by injuries.
The kid from the small town of Mapleton is just glad for the opportunities sports brought him.
“Golf, basketball, baseball. Everything in high school, basketball in college,” said Bruninga. “I think everything that built up to it in high school, my first year in college, I don’t think I’d change anything about it. As bad as it hurts now, I think everything that built up to (this decision) was worth it.”
He’s a year away from graduating with a degree in agriculture business. And he says coach Dan Muller wants him around the team as much as possible next year, even if he won’t play.
“When we were going through this decision, especially after we decided it was best to stop playing, he mentioned he wants me to be around the team,” Bruninga said. “I’m thankful he gives me the opportunity to be around the team. That’s definitely nice.”