While all of Lawrence has enjoyed the basketball exploits of Kenya Earl since she arrived on campus five years ago, perhaps no one has had a better view of her record-setting run than Karina Herrera. They played together on the women’s basketball team for four years, shared co-captain duties the past two years, and have developed a close friendship off the court. Herrera, a student writer in the Communications office, sat down with Earl to talk about their journey.
As the end of Winter Term draws near, so do the athletic careers of senior winter sports athletes. I am feeling grateful for so much as my journey as a player and co-captain of the Lawrence University’s women’s basketball team has come to an end. I have made many great memories and even better friends.
As I look back at my basketball experiences, there’s one person in particular I want to talk about. Let it be known that Lawrence University’s Kenya Earl is a basketball star. But even more so, she is my co-captain and one of my closest friends. I want to take time to honor and share my experiences playing alongside her.
On Feb. 20, we played our last game of the season against Monmouth College. Kenya scored a team-high 15 points, cementing her spot in our school’s history books as the greatest scorer of all time—men and women—with 1,610 points. It was only a few days before in a home game against Ripon College that she surpassed three-time All American Chris Braier ‘06, who held the record at 1,565 points.
During the game against Ripon, our head coach, Riley Woldt, had called me over to run a play for Kenya because she was only two points away from setting the record. However, she didn’t need the play because she stole the ball and dribbled up court for a layup.
“I was definitely a little nervous, but I could tell that you guys were on the bench getting excited, and that’s what I appreciated,” Kenya told me. “You guys were probably more excited for me to score than I was.”
For her fourth and final season—she returned to Lawrence as a fifth-year after her senior season was wiped out in the COVID-19 pandemic—Kenya led our team in points, free throws, blocks, and offensive and defensive rebounds. You wouldn’t know it by how she handles herself. There is no ego. She has always impressed me with her skill and knowledge of the game, but one thing that makes her stand out is how humble she is. I have never heard her brag about herself. Ever.
When I asked her why she doesn’t boast about herself more, Kenya said, “I really don’t know, to be honest. I just don’t talk about it a lot. If someone [compliments me] I’ll just smile and say thank you.”
During our years playing together, one of our favorite memories would be when we beat St. Norbert College at home during Kenya’s junior year. We have a lot of history with that school and they were always one of our top rivals. We beat them by one point and it was Kenya who scored the bucket to put us ahead.
“That was probably the best game ever that I’ve been a part of here,” Kenya said. “It was great, the atmosphere, we had a huge crowd, a lot of fans.”
One thing Kenya says she’ll miss most is spending time with teammates, and I agree — all the team meals together, the bus rides, our locker room conversations, our jam sessions, and just funny moments at practice.
“It sounds cheesy, but people say, ‘you really won’t remember the scores of the games like 10 years from now, but you’re going to remember the little memories that came with it,” Kenya said.
I have learned so much from Kenya, especially working alongside her as co-captain for the last two years. She is a great leader, spokesperson, and role model, and I know I speak for all my teammates when I say that we all look up to her.
As Kenya graduates this year, she leaves behind a legacy for all future players. Not only with her exceptional success on the court, but also with her amazing character.
“Hopefully it was something different that they’ve never seen before,” Kenya said of her time as a Viking. “Also, with our whole team, I hope they carry on what we’ve done as captains. Just keep the program moving forward.”