Halfway through his junior season of football, Jaxen Hashley tore his ACL and things looked bleak.
The Kalispell Glacier graduate was forced to miss the rest of the football as well as the entire basketball season as he recovered from the injury. A tough transition for an athlete used to being in the mix of things, not to mention having never experienced an injury of that magnitude before.
"It was a conflict my junior year, just sitting there watching," he said in Rocky Mountain College's gym on Wednesday. "We struggled a little bit. So it was tough knowing that if I could be out there it could be a little different."
His senior year, however, was a completely different story.
After committing to play football at Montana State in July of 2016, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Hashley went on to be a huge force for the Wolfpack in football, helping lead the team to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the state championship game against Billings Senior.
After football, Hashley led the Wolfpack to a 20-3 record in basketball, including the school's first boys basketball title. Hashley racked up a double-double in the first two rounds against Billings West and then-two-time defending state champion Billings Skyview. In the championship game against Bozeman, Hashley had eight points to help seal the deal.
As a result of his performance, Hashley was named the State AA tournament MVP.
A season that was a far-cry from what he experienced as a junior.
"It really just kind of fueled my fire," he said. "Just come back the next year and know that we still have it and I know we can do this. It was honestly, kind of, I guess you could say a blessing in disguise that it made me want to go and help our team.
"(The injury) was the first time I'd ever had to deal with that big of a controversy in my life. It was tough but my teammates were all there for me and were there whenever I needed somebody."
For his work on the hardwood over the season, Hashley was selected to the roster of the Midland Roundtable Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series. Montana will play the Wyoming All-Stars in Sheridan on Friday and at Rocky Mountain College on Saturday.
Though football is his future for the Bobcats, Hashley has grown up around the sport of basketball. His father, Doug, played basketball for the Bobcats from 1978-82 and was inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame in 2008. His sister Cassidy just finished up her junior year of basketball at Carroll.
"I've always grown up thinking I wanted to be just like my dad and play basketball for MSU," he said.
He laughed, "It turned out to be a little more football. So I can't complain. I get to go to MSU which is wonderful. It was just awesome to be able to play basketball again and just being out there with all of my friends."
Hashley and his father shared a big embrace after Glacier sealed its win over Bozeman, a moment that summed up the impact his father has had in his life.
"He's always coached me my entire life and winning a state championship is not easy and he's always been there for me," Hashley said. "I wouldn't want to change that for the world. He's been such a big part of my life and still is and so many more memories are to come. It's something I'm so appreciative of."
As for his future, Hashley said the opportunities to play football were too good to pass up.
"Coach (Jeff) Choate and everyone at MSU are awesome," he said. "I love all of those coaches and I'm excited to get down there. Knowing all of them so well personally was a big deal, so that's what I'm excited for."
Hashley is joined by fellow MSU commit Troy Andersen for the All-Star Series. University of Montana football commits Bryson and Braydon Deming of West will also play.
"Eh, a little bit," Hashley said laughing again. "We were introducing ourselves and they said they were going to the Griz and I gave them a little smirk and laughed a little bit. But we have some fun with it for sure."
Hashley will represent Glacier in the Montana-North Dakota Knights of Columbus All-Star Football Game in Miles City next weekend as well as the East-West Shrine game. A fan of the outdoors, Hashley said he plans to spend plenty of time at Flathead Lake as well as Glacier National Park before he heads to Bozeman to begin his new chapter of football.
But for now the focus is on the weekend.
"It's an honor," he said about representing Glacier in the game. "Just being able to do this and be out here with everyone else representing their schools and the state of Montana is a really big honor."