A bit swollen and discolored, the black eye Lauren Lenhardt picked up thanks to a stray elbow makes her beam with pride.
She got it in a win last Wednesday at Nevada in which she scored 20 points. At 6-foot-2, most swinging elbows don't get that high, but the odds go up when you are being regularly double- or triple-teamed, like Lenhardt.
"It's actually my first one. I think it's pretty awesome," Lenhardt said.
The Boise State women's basketball team's standout senior post has taken her fair share of bumps and bruises on her path to success, which is winding down with her final home game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against UNLV at Taco Bell Arena. All tickets are $1.
"As a post player, she's one of the all-time greats here, absolutely one of the best I've had," Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said of the only senior on his roster. "She's just one of my favorite people I've ever coached. It's going to be tough for me just not having her around."
An Eagle High graduate, Lenhardt admits she has started pondering the end. She's due to have knee surgery after the season, and likely won't play again. The three-time academic all-conference selection is set to graduate in May with a degree in human resources management.
"I think I'll be done," Lenhardt said. "Just thinking about it makes me start to cry. I'm pretty even most of the time, but two things for sure will get me emotional - basketball and my family."
The daughter of what Presnell calls "model parents," Lenhardt is the eldest of four children in a talented clan - her brother, Marcus, was the first signee for the College of Idaho football team that begins play next year.
Lenhardt said her career began to take off with the help of her family and her team following the unexpected death of a close relative during her sophomore year. Coupled with finding her place on the team, she said her confidence waned.
"I kind of brought it on the court with me," Lenhardt said. "I struggled. It was a turning point, but once I was able to get over that hump, I felt like nothing could stop me."
Even with her family only about a half-hour away, Lenhardt said she found another family with the Broncos. She's no doubt earned her stripes as a leader, trudging through injuries, and the only senior being honored Wednesday despite arriving in 2009 with four other true freshmen. Two have taken redshirts because of injury, and the two others transferred.
"She's been through everything. She's a great senior, making sure we're all in line," freshman post Miquelle Askew said. "She's a great role model. I try to copy everything she does."
With a young team around her, a bit of a maternal instinct kicks in with Lenhardt as an organizer and leader - but that also means being tough.
"Sometimes I come across, not necessarily like the mom of the team, but I might have to get on someone to get in the right place or whatever - I'm not always the favorite," Lenhardt said.
Lenhardt also has found that desire to lead by volunteering with Catch!Life, a local charity for refugees. More than a dozen of the kids came to the Broncos' last home game.
"Some of the people that sit in front of us at the games call her 'Lauren Lionheart,' and I like that," Lenhardt's mother, Kristy, said. "She's tough, she's courageous and just so caring."
The focus of every team's defense with five of the Broncos' likely top six players injured, Lenhardt has still managed to average career bests of 16.1 points and 7.2 rebounds this season. She also is second on the team with a .284 shooting percentage from 3-point range.
"She's just taken advantage of every opportunity to expand her game," Presnell said. "She's a great example. I'm glad she represents us, and hopefully we can make the ride last as long as possible."
Though Boise State has struggled with multiple key injuries and the wins have not been plentiful, Lenhardt has reveled in her role as the team's go-to player and natural leader.
"It's not at all what I expected, but better than I ever could have imagined," Lenhardt said.