Sharpshooting senior Kristin Turk has been through both success and failure as part of her illustrious career at Drake.
In 2008, she was part of a squad that won the regular season Missouri Valley Conference title and won its first-round game in the women’s National Invitation Tournament. Her sophomore season saw the third-seeded Bulldogs lose to Creighton in the semifinals of the MVC tournament. And last year, an impressive start was derailed by injuries and the promising Bulldog squad saw its season end in the MVC quarterfinals.
At 5-foot-9, Turk is an excellent three-point shooter who can score in a variety of different ways. With a talented freshman class, Turk can’t wait for the season to get underway.
“I like the role of the underdog for this season because expectations are low,” Turk said. “It really gives us a chance to surprise some people.”
With only two seniors on the team, Drake is relying heavily on Turk to be the leader of a young and inexperienced squad.
“She is so positive and encouraging about everything, even the tough stuff, so it is nice to have a teammate like that,” said junior forward Alexis Montgomery. “She has been amazing to play with and it’s nice to have a player like that on our team because she has such a hard work ethic.”
Not only is Turk the Bulldog’s most explosive offensive weapon, she averaged 13.4 points per game last season and was named Best Offensive Player by the team, but she is also a tremendous leader.
“Her motor never stops going; she is always upbeat and energetic no matter if she is on or off the court,” said junior guard Amber Wollschlager.
Turk was born and raised in Des Moines and attended Lincoln High School before deciding to come to Drake.
“Being a part of Drake women’s basketball has been an amazing experience,” Turk said. “I have absolutely loved playing in front of my hometown.”
Along with Wollschlager, Turk is the team captain and emotional leader for the Bulldogs. She is fiery, energetic and vocal. If you attend any Drake games this year, you will see her yelling out defensive assignments or getting excited every time someone dives for a loose ball.
“Turk’s effort and enthusiasm is what makes her such a great role model and example for our younger players,” Wollschlager said. “Her never-ending energy makes her unique.”
Not only is Turk an important part of Drake athletics, but she has also shown her dedication and commitment toward academics. Turk is currently a double major in history and secondary education.
“I know that having a Drake degree will give me several opportunities in my life,” Turk said. “Drake is one of the best academic institutions in the Midwest and I am proud that I will graduate from here in the spring.”
Even though Turk might not be sure of what she wants to do after graduation, one of her goals is to experience a brand-new culture.
“My plans are to live overseas after graduation,” Turk said. “Whether I play or study, I think it would be good for me to experience a new culture and something outside of Des Moines.”
Regardless of what happens this season, it’s safe to say Turk has left a lasting legacy at Drake. Her passion for the game and relentless work ethic will never be forgotten.
“Turk as a person is one of a kind,” Montgomery said. “I love her to death, for who she is. She is very compassionate and caring toward us on and off the court. She is always there for us.”
And even though she is hungry for another MVC championship this year, Turk could not be more happy with her college experience.
“Everything that has happened to me here has made me the person I am today,” Turk said. “My decision to attend Drake and play basketball was probably the best decision I have ever made.”
Photo: Connor McCourtney