USD's Macy Guebert balances nursing and basketball with a smile
The Coyote senior emerges as a team leader leading into the game against rival South Dakota State on Saturday.
VERMILLION — There may have been a few days in the life of Macy Guebert that did not include basketball, but they would be few and far between. The rest of the time this sport provided a comforting centerpiece for a family that has played, coached and practiced the game at a high level.
The 5-8 senior guard from Apple Valley, Minn., leads the University of South Dakota women’s team in minutes played averaging 33.5 a game this year after serving a support role for three seasons. She is also a nursing major navigating a strenuous stretch of her academic life.
Playing a Division I basketball schedule with all the travel, training and practices would be enough for most of us. Add to that a difficult and time-consuming major and, while you’re at it, throw in a South Dakota State game on Saturday at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
All told, it’s not an easy way to get through college. The trick is to make it look easier than it is.
“Macy made the most of her opportunities the last few years but she wasn’t starting every game and playing 35 minutes a lot of nights like we’re asking her to do now,” said USD head coach Kayla Karius. "You can see the respect level she gets from her teammates and the coaches. She's a nursing major who will work eight hours at the hospital and then come to practice and compete at a high level. She doesn’t make excuses -- she just gets down to work.”
One day this week Guebert was able to squeeze in a phone interview after practice while traveling from Vermillion to Sioux Falls in preparation for a nursing shift the next day. Spare minutes are like open looks on 3-pointers. You have to make the most of them.
“Nursing was something I was leaning toward in high school,” Guebert said. “Then when I started going through the recruiting process I learned that maybe it was not going to be easy to do both nursing and basketball in college. A lot of schools simply won’t let you do it, but honestly this is where I feel like I belong. I have the most supportive professors and the most supportive coaches.”
Guebert’s shift at the Sanford USD Medical Center would be what nurses in training call a “clinical.” It is a necessary part of a nursing education designed to provide practical hands-on experience in caring for patients. It could easily be regarded as a burden in time and energy for someone who is also playing a lot of basketball. That is, unless you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
“It’s a great experience to be able to work on a floor with nurses and get assigned to a patient,” Guebert said. “You really get to work on your patient care skills and get comfortable in that setting. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
A nursing career that is really just starting to get rolling is coinciding with the basketball-playing part of her life that is about to slow down. That’s probably a good thing but it’s definitely going to be a change for Guebert and for her family.
Macy’s father, Dan, played at Augustana and her mother, Melissa (Olson) Guebert, is the all-time leading scorer at Augustana. She is a member of the Vikings’ hall of fame and won a Minnesota state title at Eastview High School as a head coach in 2014. Macy’s brother Drew was an all-time great at the University of Sioux Falls and is now an assistant coach for the Cougars. Her sister Madison, in addition to being part of that state title team at Eastview, was one of SDSU’s best ever.
The internet is loaded with basketball Guebert stories. Macy was a very young witness to the start of that and then eventually part of what is now a legacy.
“When I was younger I remember my mom and dad and older siblings were going to a basketball tournament every week," Macy said. "It was ‘Gosh, I have to go to another basketball tournament.’ But it turns out I really started to enjoy watching them play and I got my own love and passion for the game by watching them.”
When Macy was in preschool the family installed a Sport Court in the backyard with an adjustable hoop. Life was never the same.
“It was great, I always had four rebounders,” she said. “They were always willing to be out there. During the summer we were all out there every day shooting – it was really fun.”
The Coyotes approach the final month of the regular season with a radically different lineup than would have been the case last year at this time. Macy has played a prominent role as a senior leader in helping her teammates adjust to a new coach with what is essentially a new team.
“At the beginning of the year I was really looking at what is needed from me and what the coaches need from me,” she said. “It’s been fun having a little bit more of a leadership position and being able to guide the young folks and bring them along.”
Guebert has emerged as the team’s best perimeter defender and a calming influence. In 2022-23, with wholesale lineup changes and so many injuries, her presence has been more of a necessity than a luxury.
“Sometimes you think about how the team would function without a few of the players we have out there,” Karius said. “If you took Macy out of the equation this would be a very different team. She’s been such an important leader.”
It’s a quality that will likely translate very well as she advances in her career. This summer she will be interning at Sanford in the emergency department. She’s expecting a fast-paced environment where the focus on patients will be vital.
“I always thought I wanted to do something that involved people,” she said. “And then I figured if I’m going to be working with people I should be doing something where I can help people. I really think about making a difference in a small way even if it’s just being able to put a smile on somebody’s face. They might be going through what for them is the worst time in their life. It’s all about getting them through it. Putting smiles on people’s faces is what I’m really looking forward to.”