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The Antelope

The Antelope

Kirsch reflects on rebounding record, Loper success 

Klaire Kirsch is in her fifth year on the team and is studying communication disorders. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

Klaire Kirsch never intended to be the greatest rebounder in UNK women’s basketball history. Her commitment to team success propelled her to the record. 

“I turned it into an ‘Every rebound is mine until it’s not’ mindset,” Kirsch said. “I really just try to do everything I can to help the team win, and if that’s rebounding then that’s what I do.”

Kirsch is quick to compliment her teammates on her success, but her hustle was hard to ignore during their home game against Central Missouri. There were many rebounds, especially in the first half, that Kirsch had slim chances of snatching. However, Kirsch would simply sprint to the ball, regardless of her odds, and outwork the Jennies. 

“It’s not my biggest priority or joy,” Kirsch said. “I really step into practices and games just happy to be here and being surrounded by the team and the coaches. They are just great people.”

Kirsch has 1,156 career rebounds. The previous record was held by Heather Steffen with 939. After averaging 5.9 rebounds a game her freshman year, Kirsch hasn’t averaged less than eight rebounds over the last four seasons while peaking at 9.5 rebounds a game during the 2020-21 season. She also has 1,125 career points and averaging over seven points per game in all five years at UNK. 

“I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing, but this has not been a goal,” Kirsch said. “I think our team does a really good job of knowing our roles, owning our roles and doing what it takes to win.” 

Kirsch attended high school at St. Thomas More in Rapid City, South Dakota, where her team went 94-6. She credits her high school strength and conditioning coach, Scott Benson, with some of her achievements at UNK.

“My college success started in high school when I was setting myself up to be a college athlete,” Kirsch said. “Scott Benson was my strength and conditioning coach all throughout middle and high school and I give a ton of credit to him for preparing me for the physicality of collegiate athletics. Once I got here, I was already ahead of the game thanks to him. He taught me physically and mentally.” 

Thanks in part to Kirsch’s play, the Lopers have one of the best records in the country and are playing at a high level. Because of the selflessness of Kirsch, and the team, the Lopers know they can have steeper goals. 

“The final goal for this team is to make a run at the National Championship,” Kirsch said. “Those are big words, and that’s a big goal. We just have to keep winning games and keep eliminating every obstacle game by game.”

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