As basketball season moved toward its most intense time of the year, Kania Pollock’s strengths have been on full display. First, the Queens native, a guard at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, earned Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Defensive Player of the Week Honors. Then, at the CIAA Tip-Off Awards banquet, Pollock was named to the All-CIAA Team. Although Lincoln was defeated by Shaw University in the CIAA Tournament semi-finals, Pollock was honored on the CIAA Women’s Basketball All-Tournament list.

“I literally appreciate every single aspect of being at an HBCU. The people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had, the way the alums make everybody feel present. It feels like a home here,” said Pollock, who began her college career at Manhattan College, transferring to Lincoln in 2020.

Pollock’s introduction to basketball was playing recreational streetball. After meeting coaches who began crafting her skills, she found a support system. Her mother is disabled and her upbringing was challenging, but basketball provided a safe haven. “There’s not a lot of opportunity, so you have to make the best out of what cards you’re dealt, and that’s what I did,” Pollock said. “The older I got, the more appreciation I gained for basketball. It opened a lot of opportunities.”

She attended The Mary Louis Academy and played hoops all over NYC, including Rucker Park. Although Pollock has affection for her teammates and the coaches at Manhattan College, she felt she didn’t fit in. After her sophomore year, she explored going to an HBCU, picking Lincoln because she didn’t want to go too far from Queens in case her mother needed her. Although some people tried to dissuade her from going from Division I to Division II, she realized “there’s talent at every level,” she said. “The games are packed, and you just feel the love.”

Head coach Janice Washington, who came to Lincoln in 2021 and was named 2023 CIAA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, saw something special in Pollock and pushed her to excel, especially on defense. “I was never a vocal leader, and Coach made me realize that you don’t always have to be vocal to lead,” Pollock said.

Pollock hopes that Lincoln will be selected for the NCAA Division II Tournament. After that is graduation and she wants to play professionally. She will also continue to pursue her other interests—photography and being a barber. “I ultimately want to open my own studio, which will be a safe space for people and I can give back to the community,” she said.

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