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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

K-State and Gabby Gregory: The team and player Manhattan rallied behind

Gabby Gregory’s two years at K-State brought new life to women’s basketball
Avery Johnson
Guard Gabby Gregory hypes herself and the crowd up during her performance against Colorado during K-State’s round of 32 matchup in Manhattan. Gregory transferred to K-State in 2022 and played for two years, becoming a fan favorite among the fanbase.

A total of 9,642 fans gathered in Bramlage Coliseum for Kansas State women’s basketball’s round of 64 matchup against the Portland Pilots. While attendance marked a season-high, guard Gabby Gregory — a major catalyst in furthering fan interaction — was pleased, but not satisfied.

“Obviously I was really trying for that sellout, but we were really close,” Gregory said. “I mean, it was amazing in there. … It really just speaks to the growth of the game of women’s basketball, that we get to play in front of almost sold out crowds and things like that now. But I think it was tremendous and I can’t wait to have a sellout on Sunday.”

Wildcat fans are familiar with challenges to support sports. Men’s basketball head coach Jerome Tang frequently advocates for more energy. So of course, fans responded to Gregory’s request.

Less than 24 hours later, Gregory announced at Saturday afternoon’s press conference that fans sold out Sunday’s game against Colorado.

Support for hosting March Madness extended beyond fan ticket purchases, including teams within K-State Athletics. Football, volleyball, tennis, soccer and other teams showed their support on social media, often featuring a “Gap Goat” in good luck videos for the women’s basketball team.

The team made an effort to garner as much support as possible. Star center Ayoka Lee reached out to the track and field coach to reschedule a throwers’ practice so they could attend the Portland game, Gregory said. Lee’s request was met, and the throwers sat in Bramlage to watch a Wildcat victory.

Guard Zyanna Walker said the soccer team also changed a practice time to make the game.

“Yeah, this is just a special place to be and be a college athlete,” guard Serena Sundell said. “Just the support that we have throughout teams and — I mean, it’s just — it’s very rare. You don’t see that across the country. I’m just super thankful to be in a place like Kansas State where everybody is just so supportive. We go to volleyball games and soccer games and all that stuff, too. It’s so fun. People just truly enjoy supporting one another, and this is a great place to be.”

Unfortunately for Gregory and her teammates, the Wildcats fell 63-50 in a physical battle with the Buffaloes, ending the season and her collegiate career. Nevertheless, Gregory went out on a bang, with over 10,000 fans in support.

“If that’s my last game in Bramlage, that’s a pretty good crowd to go out on,” Gregory said through tears in the postgame press conference. “I’m just really thankful to the fans. Everyone has been amazing and so supportive of us this year. I really think that we have grown the game of women’s basketball in Manhattan, Kansas, and I just can’t wait to see the support that they continue to get next year.”

Gregory’s impact on the program rose above her on-court play. She was on the front lines making Gap Goat one of the biggest celebrities in the Little Apple. In just two years at K-State, she became a fan favorite and a cherished member of Wildcat nation.

A teary-eyed guard Gabby Gregory embraces head coach Jeff Mittie after he pulled her from the last minute of the game against Colorado. Gregory led the Wildcats in scoring with 12. (Avery Johnson)

“I think Gabby’s personality allows people to draw to her, and people can see how hard she plays on the floor, and people can see the passion that she plays with, and she’s not afraid to vocalize that,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “You know, she’s not afraid to tell the fans, we need a sellout. People are drawn to people that compete at the highest level, and I think, you know, players like Gabby can have an impact regardless of how long you’re at a program because they are just those kind of people. And we could see it from the — we could see it when she first walked in here. So it’s not surprising what she’s done.”

Gregory’s arrival in Manhattan and stay for a final season is attributed to her desire to play with Lee — possibly the greatest player to ever don a Wildcat uniform and another huge contributor to the growth of women’s basketball in Manhattan. Lee said she is very thankful to have played with the Oklahoma transfer.

“It’s just been such a joy to have Gabby here,” Lee said tearfully after senior night Feb. 28. “The energy she brings is what we needed as a team. I’ve never had a teammate like her. I’m just grateful to have played with her.”

Seniors Ayoka Lee and Gabby Gregory huddle together during a stopped play. The women’s basketball team fell on senior night to Iowa State 82-76 Feb. 28. (Jersey Johnson)
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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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