By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer
Basketball may be just a game for some people, but to forward Kaylee Kilpatrick, basketball is about family.
Kilpatrick is set to graduate this May after four seasons in a Wildcat uniform. When asked what it was like to play for UNH, it was hard for to describe.
“There is no comparable feeling to being on a team and playing with people you love, your second family really,” Kilpatrick said. “For me, being a member of this team meant I had a family that I could turn to for anything — basketball related or not — and for whom I was willing to make sacrifices.”
The senior said she learned about herself both on and off the court. She said it is challenging to put her finger on just one thing being a member of the Wildcat family taught her.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” a nostalgic Kilpatrick said. “I learned a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, what it truly means to be a part of a team that is striving towards a common goal, and the feeling of being part of a greater community that is so supportive.”
Kilpatrick got better and better every year of her career in Durham, increasing her scoring average every season.
She averaged 1.9 points per game while starting in four of 21 games she appeared in. But the next season, Kilpatrick scored 7.6 ppg and started in 23 games. She continued to improve as her role on the team increased. She notched 8.2 ppg during her junior year, and finished this season with a career-high 9.3 ppg while starting in all 29 games for the Wildcats.
Kilpatrick said her teammates played a major role in her consistent improvement. She said that experiencing highs and battling lows with her team helped propel her into the player she is today.
“You fight through the struggles and celebrate the victories together as you strive for your common goal,” Kilpatrick said. “Day in and out they push you to be the best you can be and support you all the way.”
Her senior season ended prematurely in a 58-42 Wildcats’ loss to Hartford in the America East quarterfinals. But despite the disappointment of falling short, Kilpatrick said the loss does not take away from the success UNH had this season.
“The way the season ended was definitely disappointing and not what we had hoped for,” Kilpatrick said. “But we still accomplished a lot of great things this season, things worth remembering.”
Kilpatrick said one of her greatest memories was when her team beat Maine on Senior Day this season back on March 1 on Senior Day at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Black Bears were 14-1 in conference games up until that game, while the Wildcats were 9-7 in America East play. The win over rival Maine was sweet for Kilpatrick, too, because she and her senior teammates got to celebrate their four years with their families in a pregame ceremony. She said that game will certainly stand out as one in her lasting memories of her collegiate career.
The senior is set to graduate with a biomedical science degree and said she wants to play professionally overseas in the fall for a couple of seasons before coming back to the U.S. for medical school.
Kilpatrick excelled in the classroom throughout her entire career. Her academics awarded her to the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times (2012, 2013, 2014) as well as the America East All-Academic Team in 2014. Kilpatrick was also inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athletic Honor Society for achieving a GPA of 3.5 or higher and be an example of high moral character.
Balancing her studies with basketball did not come easy for Kilpatrick – especially at first.
“I really struggled with the balance freshman year, but the older I got I learned how to balance basketball and school,” Kilpatrick said. “It was definitely a challenge, especially with my major, but I made it work. I had to.”
After shining on the court and in the classroom, Kilpatrick said she does not know what to expect on graduation day.
“I can only imagine where my head will be on the day of graduation,” Kilpatrick said. “I will definitely be remembering all the laughs and tears shared with teammates and friends, on and off the court. I’ll probably also be thinking about the future, about my own plans and those of my fellow Wildcats and wondering where our paths are going to lead us and when they will cross again.”