Kyrstin Wolff was a standout player for Bloomingdale this season.

COVID-19 has affected many people’s daily lives and routines. There are many cons of the pandemic, but there are some benefits to having more free time, such as the ability to spend more time with your loved ones. Bloomingdale basketball player Kyrstin Wolff and her mom, Dawn Lanier, have taken advantage of this rare opportunity.

Lanier played college basketball for Loyola University. Many members of her family have played the game as well, including her father, who played semipro. Now her daughter, Kyrstin, has taken up the family tradition as well, by her own choice.

As a freshman at Bloomingdale, Wolff averaged six points per game to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks per game while starting at center. This comes as a pleasant surprise for Wolff, who got cut as a sixth grader from her middle school team a few years ago.

Wolff didn’t let that hinder her. She decided to work as the team manager that same season to learn the playbook, as well as hone her skills. She didn’t want to feel that same way again, so she used that as her main motivation to get better.

Her hard work all paid off in the end, as she became a starter for her high school team, which went 19-7 this past season with a trip to regionals. She also worked hard while doing schoolwork online, finishing her freshman year with an impressive 3.85 GPA.

“I learned a lot from playing tough teams like Tampa Bay Tech and Fort Myers this past season,” said Wolff. “I’m happy to have earned their respect as a freshman, but I know that I still have a lot of work to do.”

The young Wolff remains hungry as she continues to work in the off-season with her mother to evolve as a player. According to Dawn, Kyrstin has only played the game for three and a half years and still has a lot that she can improve on.

This pandemic has given the pair a rare opportunity to spend time together and bond over the game that they both love. They admittedly butt heads sometimes because they both have strong personalities and are very similar, but they always make up in the end, and this experience has helped them learn to communicate better.

Dawn is currently working from home for Progressive as a corporate recruiter. She has taken on the role of a mom, teacher and trainer while working full-time. The pair has trained for four to five days a week since the beginning of the pandemic.

“She is far better than I was at her age,” said Dawn. “As hard as it is to hear her not wanting to be like me, it allows me to see her forge her own path. I think that’s because she’s chosen basketball, versus it being planted on her. I love seeing her on the court. I love seeing her enjoy playing.”

Kyrstin has been working on her fundamentals, dribbling, shooting and athleticism, often going to the blacktop court in the private park behind her neighborhood with fellow teammate Kaylie Lewis and others. She also has a hoop in her driveway and has worked out in her garage with their “makeshift CrossFit gym.”

Dawn has also been running and working out with Kyrstin, while teaching her everything she knows about the game. Their body type and style of play is so similar that it’s almost uncanny. Kyrstin also wears the same number 42 that her mother and grandfather both wore. Dawn calls Kyrstin her “mini-me.”

The training will continue throughout the summer for Dawn and Kyrstin. They normally would be entrenched in the travel ball summer season at this time. Kyrstin plays for the Compound travel team, and Dawn is the assistant coach.

They may choose not to participate due to concerns over the virus. She is also missing out on the high school spring ball season and on coaching summer basketball camps at the high school.

Kyrstin’s goals are to become ranked in the state and county basketball rankings. She wants to come back to school as a different player, because she knows that her best is yet to come.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.