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Unlikely recruitment lands Kirsch in Kearney

Klaire Kirsch (left) was told to consider playing basketball as a Loper during her senior year of high school from a competitor’s father. That competitor, Maegan Holt, is now her teammate.

Teammate’s father put Lopers on Kirsch’s list, her on theirs


For most college athletes, the recruiting process is predetermined and monotonous. 

No matter what the school or the coach, the process normally goes as such: coach calls the player to recruit, the coach has an in-home visit, coach invites player on a campus tour, coach offers the player.  

For Klaire Kirsch, the starting freshman forward from South Dakota, that was not the case.  

Kirsch, like most high school basketball players aspiring to play in college, played in select basketball tournaments in a regional and national summer league. Kirsch had been playing all over the mid-west region for the team named North Tartan. 

These tournaments are prime time for coaches from all over the county to come and recruit athletes. 

“My team played in tournaments in Minneapolis, Ames, Chicago, and Nashville,” Kirsch said. “But it was in Minneapolis where I met Jason Holt.”  

Jason Holt was no collegiate coach though, but merely a father who coached his daughter’s team in this league. Holt had the opportunity to run into Kirsch while she was sitting in the stands, cooling down from a hot summer game. 

“His team, like mine, had lost their previous game, so we shared our disappointment and frustration with each other. That’s when we got to talking,” Kirsch said. “I asked about his daughter he was coaching, and learned that she had committed to Nebraska-Kearney.” 

Holt, whose daughter, Maegan, had committed to UNK recently, began asking Kirsch if she knew much about Kearney or the University and told her to consider it, as he felt the coaches were good and had the program headed in the right direction. 

After speaking with each other about the possibilities of UNK, Kirsch and Holt said their goodbye’s and headed off in opposite directions. “I had no idea that the conversation I’d held with him would change the course of my life,” Kirsch said. 

What Kirsch learned later is that Jason Holt had called the UNK coaches immediately after to recommend they put Kirsch on their recruiting list. 

“He had not actually seen me play, but told them that my select team was highly regarded and that he thought I’d be a good fit,” Kirsch said. “One thing led to another, and here I am at UNK today.” 

Basketball was not the only reason Kirsch wanted to come to UNK though. After touring through the Communication Disorders department and meeting with all of the coaches, players, and Kearney natives on her campus visit, she knew she was making the right decision in committing. 

“The friendliness of people here is amazing,” Kirsch said. “When we visited for the first time, a student or faculty member would open every door for us. My dad even joked that we felt like celebrities.”  

For Kirsch, this recruiting process has been one for the books. 

“Thanks to Jason Holt, I am here at UNK with Jason’s daughter, Maegan, as my teammate, roommate, and one of my closest friends,” Kirsch said. 

“I knew I was going to a school that offered everything I was looking for and I can’t imagine going to school anywhere else!” 

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