Kaifes’ athletic ability on court credited to sibling support


Claire Kaifes (10) looks to pass to a teammate in Marquette’s win at Belmont Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Sibling relationships consist of all kinds of emotions and memories to look back on.

For Marquette women’s basketball sophomore guard Claire Kaifes, her sibling relationships were centered around their love for basketball.

“Two of my older siblings, my older sister and my older brother, played college basketball,” Kaifes said. “They played a major part in all of my development growing up. My older brother (and I), we would play one on one and he never let me win. Ever.”

The Kaifes siblings understand the challenges and rewards that come with playing basketball collegiately.

Her brother, Cooper, is just across the border playing for Loyola University in Chicago as a redshirt junior, and her sister, Katie, played for Eastern Kentucky and is now a graduate assistant for the Colonels.

Like her siblings, she followed their footsteps and has found herself playing at the collegiate level, where she is having a breakout second season.

Since Marquette women’s basketball returned to play Jan. 15 after being on pause for almost a whole month due to COVID-19 protocols and precautions, she has been shooting over 50% from beyond the 3-point line.

“She’s got a phenomenal looking jump shot,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “We believe in her that she can make multiple threes in a game and a little bit from the beginning of the year to now she’s just kind of (getting) more comfortable in her role.”

While the comfort she poses on the court when ball handling may appear effortless, Kaifes falls back on her siblings in the times where she needs some extra support or advice.

“(My siblings) really built my toughness and built my competitiveness. They also are someone to lean on because they’ve been through everything I’ve been going through,” Kaifes said. “So, if I ever need that support, they are one call away, one text away.”

The Shawnee, Kansas native averaged a double-double her senior year of high school while attending Mill Valley High School. She has since expanded on her athletic mannerisms after joining Marquette’s team last season, where she appeared in 24 games.

This season she has become an essential player off the bench for Duffy to rely on, contributing points at clutch moments.

“Claire Kaifes is a tremendous kid to coach,” Duffy said. “She comes in everyday with a smile on her face and a great work ethic. I think the biggest thing for Claire moving into her sophomore season was just to get more game reps and more experience.”

While the team’s roster may appear to be underclassmen-heavy, it consists of many different talented players with their own unique style of play. This allows so many different options of players to come off the bench in different scenarios, including Kaifes.

“Our sophomore class is huge, along with our freshmen class as well,” Duffy said. “We are still underclassmen (heavy) and (those) ten kids that are going to be huge parts of our program. It’s great to see her coming on and helping our team coming off the bench.”

In the Jan. 15 game against Seton Hall, Kaifes scored a season-high nine points and has made scoring contributions in over half of the team’s games this season. Kaifes credits a lot of the growth she is having this season to her teammates.

“(My teammates) have done a lot to find me (and) get me open drive-and-kick scenarios,” Kaifes said. “They are doing a really great job of finding me and luckily I have been able to make shots and kind of develop more of a jumper.”

While Kaifes’ teammates might not necessarily be related through blood like her siblings, she still looks to them like family.

“As a whole team we just have great chemistry with each other, we really learned how to like play really well with each other,” Kaifes said. “Even with different lineups and different combinations of players we’ve flow really well and really good at reading each other.”

This story was written by Molly Gretzlock. She can be reached at [email protected],edu or on Twitter @MollyGretzlock.