The Chadron State College women’s basketball team could still have its most productive player in recent years on the roster this season if she had not been such a strong student and didn’t have some wanderlust in her soul.
That’s right, Taryn Foxen, the Lady Eagles’ leading scorer in both 2018-19 and 2019-2020, could still be playing since the NCAA ruled that competing in athletics in 2020-21 did not count as a year of eligibility because of the disruptions COVID 19 was causing around the world.
But, unlike scores of college athletes who decided this year to be “super seniors,” which means taking a few more classes and competing again to make up for lost time, Foxen chose to pack her bags and is now studying some 5,000 miles and nine time zones from Chadron. She’s attending the Language House in Prague, Czech Republic, seeking certification to teach English as a foreign language.
Language House has the reputation for being among the best in its field. About 40 students, all but two of them Americans, are enrolled in the current session. At age 22, Foxen is one of the youngest. She said the curriculum “is pretty intense.”
Foxen made the decision to give up basketball, even though a bout with Covid caused her to miss five of the Eagles’ 13 games last season. Since she had enough credits to graduate last May was a major reason she chose not to return to CSC this fall. Just as in basketball, she also excelled in the classroom, graduating magna cum laude, which requires a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.75. She majored in English literature.
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If she hadn’t made the decision, she’d be headed with the Eagles to help them launch their 29-game schedule in Texas this weekend.
“I could have come back and played again, but Chadron State doesn’t offer a master’s degree in English, so I didn’t think it would benefit me academically to take more classes and my body was kind of wearing out. Something was always hurting last year,” Foxen said by telephone. “So, I decided it was time to move on. I’ve always wanted to travel, and when I finish here I’ll have a passport to go about anyplace in the world.”
Her experience in Prague has been interesting, she said. She’d never been abroad before. Although this is the final week of the program, she plans to remain in Europe and see more sights until about December 1. Public transportation makes it easy to travel, she added.
“I’ll be back in Chadron watching my former teammates play a few games in less than a month,” she said. “Then I’ll spend Christmas with my family and decide what I want to do next. I could go to a foreign country and teach, or I could stay home and teach on-line for a while before I head out.”
Even though what proved to be her final college basketball season was cut short, the player that CSC Coach Janet Raymer spotted at a summer camp at the University of Nebraska-Kearney prior to her senior year at Cherokee Trail High in Aurora, Colo., certainly made an impact at Chadron State.
The 1,180 points that she scored puts her seventh on the Eagles’ all-time scoring chart and she is one of just six CSC women to tally more than 500 points in a season.
Foxen was CSC’s second leading scorer as a freshman in 2017-18 with 267 points, and led the team in scoring in both 2018-19 with 308 and 2019-20 with 506. She added 99 points in just eight games last winter.
Her junior season was exceptional. She shot 43 percent from the field to rank third in the RMAC in field goal percentage, sank 54 three-pointers, scored 20 or more points a dozen times and poured in 35 points in her final game that season to tie all-time greats Tricia Lukawski and Shauna Smith for fifth on the Eagles’ single game list.
Only Gwen Reed with 42 points in 1976-77 and 41 in 1975-76, Katie Ranta with 37 in 2013-14 and Bec Kyba with 36 in 2005-06 have ever scored more. Foxen also tallied 33 points twice, despite nearly always drawing extra defensive attention because the opponents knew she was the Eagles’ primary offensive threat.
She was a three-year starter at Cherokee Hill and owns the school’s record for most 3-pointers in a season with 33, set as a senior in 2016-17.
Blessed with outstanding quickness and exceptional ball-handling skills that Foxen said were drilled into her by her father, Jason, she could both “stop and pop” or drive to the hoop. Once she got near the basket, she could make layups for a dozen different angles.
No doubt about it, she also liked to have the ball when the game was on the line.
For her career, she made 415 of 1,009 field goal shots for 41.1 percent, nailed 105 of 309 treys and sank 245 of 356 free throws for 68.8 percent.
In addition, Foxen, who was Chadron State’s Homecoming Queen in 2019, could play defense. She led the Eagles in steals each of the last three years. Like we said, she wanted the ball.