Kansas women’s basketball: Holly Kersgieter reflects on memorable KU career

Kansas super-senior guard Holly Kersgieter (13) poses during media day inside Allen Fieldhouse
Kansas super-senior guard Holly Kersgieter (13) poses during media day inside Allen Fieldhouse / Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA

There have been few players who have made the kind of impact that senior guard Holly Kersgieter has made over her past five years at Kansas.

Following the 2021-22 season, Kersgieter was named First Team All-Big 12 and helped bring the Kansas women’s basketball program its first NCAA Tournament win in nine years.

In 2023, she was a member of the KU squad that helped bring home the WNIT national championship. That same year, she was given the Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Student-Athlete Award, which recognizes a Kansas student-athlete for their performance on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.

She’s also etched her name into the history books by becoming KU’s all-time leader in made 3-point field goals and currently sits as the No. 4 all-time scorer in Kansas women’s basketball history with 1,857 points.

Despite all her many accolades, her humble persona and determination has kept her focused on being the best player, student, and representative of KU that she can be – and that is what she hopes to be remembered for.

“I want people to remember that I gave it my all,” she said. “That I was a player that played hard, but also a student who worked hard in school and represented KU well on and off the court, and that I was part of this community.”

That determination to be a good player and a good student is what made her return to KU for her fifth and final year. She felt she had “unfinished business,” and her love of basketball was still as strong as ever.

“I had six hours left to complete my undergrad degree,” she said. “But I didn’t want to be in Lawrence and not playing basketball. I wasn’t ready to be done and it’s something that I still wanted to do and love to do.”

Her return helped her break the 3-point record that had previously stood for 27 years – an accomplishment Kersgieter said she is very proud of, but not for the reason you may think.

“Breaking that record wasn’t something I had on my radar coming into KU,” she said. “And it’s not even about being the best, I’m proud because it represents the journey I’ve been on. It’s a sign of how far I’ve come, and all the support I received from it was really unexpected but amazing.”

Although it was hard to choose just one, Kersgieter said her favorite memory (up until this point) has been her first NCAA Tournament game in 2022 because of how the team exceeded expectations and was able to come away with the win. That is something she hopes this year’s team – especially the ones who weren’t on the ’21-22 team – can experience as well.

Her teammates and the memories they’ve shared are what she says she will miss most about her time at KU. That’s what has made her experience worthwhile.

“Being around a team all the time is really special,” she said. “Nothing means anything if you don’t have the people that you work with every day to share it with. The records, the wins, they don’t matter if you don’t have the people around you who you worked with along the way to celebrate with.”

Kersgieter has been an exemplary role model as a player and a person during her time at KU, and she has some advice for younger fans looking to follow in her footsteps.

“Take it one step at a time,” she said. “You don’t have to be recruited at 14 or 15 or be the best player on the team. Just keep moving forward, be who you are, and work hard.”

Kersgieter and her fellow seniors will play their final game at Allen Fieldhouse on Senior Day this Saturday in what she said will be an “emotional day” for her and teammates.

With a win, they will likely earn themselves another NCAA Tournament appearance and perhaps a chance at creating a few more lasting memories before it’s all said and done.

Kersgieter and the Jayhawks tip off against the No. 20-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at 4 p.m. CT this Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN+.