If not for the tight costumes, USF’s Kitija Laksa might be a gymnast today

Kitija Laksa's pursuit of the USF women's basketball and NCAA record books might never have gotten started if not for tight gymnastics costumes.
USF forward Kitija Laksa (33) shoots over Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Williams (3) during a 2017 game in Tampa. [Times files (2017)]
USF forward Kitija Laksa (33) shoots over Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Williams (3) during a 2017 game in Tampa. [Times files (2017)]
Published November 1
Updated November 1

Kitija Laksa's pursuit of the USF women's basketball and NCAA record books might never have gotten started if not for tight gymnastics costumes.

Though both of her parents played basketball —her father, Janis, professionally in Latvia —  Laksa's sporting career began as a youth gymnast.

She inherited her parents' athleticism and excelled at the sport. There was just one problem — she didn't like the tight costumes she had to wear.

"Yep, short, baggy shorts seemed more suitable for me," Laksa writes in a personal letter to Bulls Nation.

Laksa next tried swimming as an after-school activity. But basketball — and those baggy shorts — ultimately won her heart. Attending her mother, Elita's, summer camps, she played against boys and quickly found that she could beat most of them.

She was hooked.

Laksa went on to play for her country's youth national teams and has now participated in three European Championships and a World Cup.

Since arriving at USF, she has set NCAA records for free-throw percentage in a season (96.5, 111-for-115) and consecutive 3-pointers in a game (11) and is on pace to break Jessica Dickson's school career scoring record  of 2,402 points.

"And you know what?" Laksa writes. "Appetite grows while eating, and I've never been hungrier."

Read her full letter here.

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