Kirschner already makes mark with Pioneers

Photo by Gabe Sunderman

Written By Dara Collins, Editor-in-Chief

Point Park’s women’s basketball team has a roster of 19 women, 10 of which are freshmen. One freshman in particular is climbing the ladder and making connections on and off the court: Taylor Kirschner.

Kirschner, a New Brighton, Pa. native, is in her second semester at Point Park as a biological sciences major with hopes of a career in sports medicine.

Clarion University and California University of Pennsylvania were among other choices for Kirschner before deciding on the green and gold, but Point Park’s location ultimately played an important role in her decision.

“The city is a big aspect,” Kirschner said. “I never really enjoyed the city until now, which is kind of crazy, so I wanted to explore it a little bit and get to know my area a little more.”

In addition to connecting with her surroundings, Kirschner created genuine connections with the campus community and her team.

“[Point Park] is a very welcoming place,” Kirschner said. “I really liked the coaching staff, and I’ve definitely come to like all my teammates of course, so I’m definitely glad I made the choice to come here.”

Donning the number 43 on the court, the freshman guard played all games this season as of Feb. 3.

Kirschner has been playing basketball competitively since the age of seven. Throughout her time at Quigley Catholic High School, Kirschner accumulated accolades including MVP, and was named to the All-County team all four years of high school and to the All-State team her senior year.

As part of a competitive team, Kirschner played for Quigley as her team appeared in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Semifinals three times, district quarterfinals once and state quarterfinals once.

Although Kirschner also had her feet dipped in soccer and softball, she knew she wanted to stick with basketball after high school. When asked why, she has one simple answer.

“I just love the game a lot,” Kirschner said.

Her love for the game is apparent, according to teammate Michelle Burns.

“She’s dedicated and determined to win and has really been showing that through her work ethic and extra hours at the gym,” Burns said. “More importantly though, she’s an even better person and truly has been a joy to be around this year.”

Kirschner says her best quality as a teammate is her ability to push her teammates.

“I like to help them get better each and every day, and I definitely know it’s cliché, but I like to hype them up…and let them know like when they’re doing good,” Kirschner said. “That way we continue to push as a team and hopefully make a run for the playoffs.”

As for her worst quality, Kirschner said her shyness probably made it difficult to mesh well with the team at first.

Connecting doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore as Kirschner found her place within the team and shines as the third highest scorer on the team averaging 11.7 points per game. Burns leads with 15.6, and fellow freshman Taylor Rinn averages 13 as of Feb. 3.

Burns took Kirschner under her wing, and Kirschner looks up to Burns as a role model.

“Taylor has become like a little sister to me, and I think that just goes to show how much our team has connected over the past few months,” Burns said. “I definitely want to be someone the younger girls respect and can come to at any time.”

“Michelle Burns is a great role model to me, and I think she’s an exceptional athlete and student,” Kirschner said. “By the time I graduate, I hope to be like Michelle Burns for sure.”

Other members of the team already recognize the talent Kirschner gives to the Pioneers.

“Taylor has an important role on this team and has saved us from games that could’ve been a loss,” senior guard Tyra James said. “She’s always there for the rebound and knows how to drain it from three on the other end. She always has my back and is an awesome teammate.”

When she’s not in the gym, Kirschner finds time to enjoy the city she wanted to know when she first arrived. Kirschner enjoys ice skating at the MassMutual Ice Rink at PPG Place and attending University of Pittsburgh games-although she is a Penn State fan.

While Kirschner is competitive on the court, her teammates can laugh and joke with her off the court.

“I always find us laughing and messing with each other,” James said. “She’s the type to always give it back when it’s her turn to get picked on.”

As a student-athlete, Kirschner finds it easy to balance work, athletics and leisure.

“I think as long as you’re putting in the time after practice or after games, it should not be much different than that of someone that’s not a student athlete,” Kirschner said. “It’s just a lot about time management and making sure you’re meeting due dates and studying for your tests and everything like that, so just keep up with that. It shouldn’t be that overwhelming.”

Determined and passionate about her sport, team and academics, Kirschner lives up to the quality she values most and hopes to leave her mark on Point Park in her next four years.