Akridge, Milburn Achieve Milestone

by Carlos Melgar

Many best friends commemorate their friendship with photos, friendship bracelets or other mementos. However, two Transylvania University women’s basketball players have accomplished something together that will not only mark a milestone in their friendship but an achievement they will remember as individual players.

Olivia Akridge

Olivia Akridge, a senior guard from Eddyville, Ky., and Holly Milburn, a senior forward from Georgetown, Ky., became the 15th and 16th female Pioneers to surpass the mark of 1,000 career points. They also become the second and third players to accomplish this feat at Transylvania since the school joined NCAA Division III athletics.

“They are both very hard workers and are better people than basketball players,” said head coach Greg Todd. “It has been a pleasure working with them.”

Akridge and Milburn have been best friends since they started on the team together.

“Under normal circumstances, it would be a really great feeling of accomplishment (to achieve the 1,000-point mark),” said Milburn, “but to do it at the same time as my best friend, it is so much more fun.”

Akridge was also excited to achieve this goal.

“It was a big honor and really exciting to accomplish something like that,” Akridge said.

Holly Milburn

At the beginning of her first year, Milburn had a season-ending knee injury in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which benched her most of that year and the beginning of her sophomore year. To her, it was more of a collaborative effort to accomplish this feat because overcoming the fear of reinjuring her knee was the hardest obstacle she has encountered in her 16 years of playing basketball.

“I never could (have) overcome the fear without the support of my teammates — four of whom also had season-ending knee injuries in the same year,” Milburn said.

Akridge exceeded her 1,000 career points in the Pioneers’ win over the Manchester College Spartans. At the 6:35 mark of the game, she made a pair of free throws following a technical foul on the Manchester bench.

“It was very exciting and kind of overwhelming,” said Akridge.

For Milburn, there was so much buildup “and then it was over in 30 seconds.” Milburn reached the 1,000-point mark at an away game against Earlham College in which she scored a season-high 25 points.

“It happened at an away game and the hosting team was very classy in announcing it over the loudspeaker for all of our seven fans,” Milburn said.

Neither player realized she was even close to accomplishing such a great task. Milburn said that her dad mentioned the fact to her about two weeks before, and Akridge had no idea she was close until a few weeks before the Manchester game.

“I have never really been a scorer until the last two years so it is all very new to me,” said Akridge.

Over the years, the players have worked hard on their game and trying to improve individually.

“They stay fit year-round and both come in and do more individual work than anyone on the team,” said Todd. “Olivia has improved every year and Holly overcame a freshman ACL surgery.”

Milburn believes her work ethic has improved since her first year at Transy.

“I’m a very emotional player and always have been. In the past, I’ve let a few early missed shots get into my head and ruin games for me,” Milburn said. “The real effort came in trying to control my mentality when I’m playing, which has proven to be the most difficult task of all. I had to learn, especially this year, to replace my temper with a certain amount of stoicism.”

Akridge has also worked during the offseason to improve.

“I have always worked in the offseason to get better for the team,” said Akridge. “I feel as if each year I have been here we have graduated wonderful players, so I think our whole team knew we had to prove our individuality to have another successful season.”

Milburn can’t picture life without basketball.

“It is slightly disorientating,” Milburn said. “Playing at Transy was the best decision I’ve ever made. My best friends play here or have played here. Olivia and I joke that when I play, I want everyone to win. I have made friends with the women I play against.”


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