Woolston: a new household name for BYU women’s basketball

There are a few family names synonymous with BYU sports like Kaufusi and Hamson.

For BYU women’s basketball, the name Woolston has the potential to become a household name for the next several years.

Kailey Woolston, the 2022-23 Gatorade Utah player of the year, and a freshman for the Cougars, is one of the best shooters on the team already. She currently is second on BYU’s team in scoring at 16.0 points per game and she’s shooting 58.1% from 3-point range.

Woolston’s breakout freshman campaign helped the Cougars to a 6-0 start and she is poised to make some noise in the Big 12 Conference, if not further. She’s already starting to pile up the personal accolades as well.

Her sister, Kennedy Woolston, recently committed to the Cougars in September and is currently a sophomore at Lone Peak High School.

Kailey, a highly touted instate recruit in high school, won the 6A Deseret News Player of the Year and the Daily Herald’s Player of the Year in the 2022-23 season. She has started this season with a bang leading the Cougars in scoring and being a key contributor right away. If Kailey continues her upward trajectory, and Kennedy follows in her footsteps, the two sisters could be two of the more talented players to play for the Cougars.   

Growing Up

Kailey and Kennedy Woolston grew up in Highland, Utah, and began playing basketball in kindergarten.  

“We would take them out on the driveway, and we would teach them how to dribble and shoot the ball off of the backboard, said Megan Woolston, their mother. “Like dribble, jump stop, shoot it off the backboard. That’s all they had to do at the beginning, and they killed it.”

Kailey and Kennedy could not have asked for a better teacher growing up.

“She is the one who taught me the mechanics of how to shoot … and taught us the technical part of the game,” Kailey said of her mom.

Megan played basketball at SUU where she currently sits third in career points scoring 1,328 points during her four-year career. She shot 82% from the free throw line and 40% from the 3-point line, records that Kailey now has goals to beat.

“I didn’t know that. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that number,” Kailey said. “But now it is. Yeah, I want to beat her, for sure.”

Although Megan was the teacher, it was Spencer, their father, who did most of the rebounding for his daughters on the driveway and in the gym.

“She (Megan) hates rebounding,” Kailey said. “So after she taught us, my dad is the one that was in the gym every day rebounding. He loves it, it’s like his therapy.”

Even though has Kailey moved out, Spencer still rebounds for Kailey every chance he gets.

“Spencer is a really good rebounder. He’ll drive down to BYU and rebound for Kaylee still,” Megan said. “When she doesn’t want to shoot with the machine, she’s like Dad, come down and he’ll do everything he can to get down there. It’s his favorite thing to do in life.”

With the support and knowledge from their parents, Kailey and Kennedy’s love for the game grew strong just like their relationship.

Sibling Rivalry

Even with the three-year age gap between Kailey and Kennedy, they were very competitive growing up.

“It came to fights at some points cause we’re so competitive but me and her are so close,” Kailey said. “Like we spent so much time together. Obviously, there had to be some fights in there.”

Despite the fighting, the competition did bring them closer together.

“It was great, cause we’re really good at just like moving on,” Kennedy said. “We’ll go play really hard on the basketball court and then we’re fine after.”

Because of Kailey’s age and talent advantage, she did have to even the playing field for Kennedy as they were developing their skills. In their one-on-one matchups, Kailey would have to score 10 points before Kennedy scored five to keep things interesting. In the sister’s lone season together at Lone Peak, they would compete every day after practice.

“She’s never beat me straight up … she’s never beat me,” Kailey said.

However, Kennedy remembered things differently.

“This is the problem!” Kennedy said. “So every time I beat her, I’ve beaten her at least five times but she’s like, ‘Oh I wasn’t even trying.’ Every single time. But I have beat her.”

Despite the classic older-sibling, younger-sibling dynamic, the Woolston sisters are better because of their years playing together.

“We pushed each other and just helped each other get better. It was awesome,” Kennedy said.

Playing at Lone Peak

The 2022-23 basketball season was the lone season Kailey and Kennedy could play together at Lone Peak and the Woolston sisters made the most of it.

“It was so much fun because growing up, a lot of times our tournaments were in different places,” Kailey said. “We weren’t able to watch each other a ton. So being able to actually play with her for a year was super fun.”

Lone Peak made the most 3-point field goals in a season in Utah high school history and won the 6A state championship.

Kailey starred and had an impressive state tournament run and was named MVP of the tournament and the Utah Gatorade Player of the Year.

But it was Kennedy who made the biggest shot of the season for Lone Peak.

“We were struggling that game. We couldn’t hit anything. I think we hit like two 3s in the first half and that was our bread and butter,” Kailey said. “But we were struggling, and it just kept going back and forth. When she hit that, it was kind of just like, oh a kind of relief to have her finally hit that… and that was awesome. I loved when she hit that.”

While at Lone Peak Kailey, won back-to-back state titles in her junior and senior seasons. Meanwhile, Kennedy already has one state championship with three more years to add to the Woolston resume.

Choosing BYU

The Woolston sisters had very different recruiting processes in choosing BYU. Kailey committed the summer before her season and had a plethora of Power 5 offers to choose from. The schools most interested were Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Utah, and BYU, among others. So, what eventually swung her decision to end up at BYU?

“I was always drawn to BYU, but the WCC was kind of a turnoff there,” Kailey said. “I was like, I don’t want to have to play these teams all four years. So having them move to the Big 12 was like, ‘Yep, that’s where I want to go.’ It was kind of like the last final piece that fell into place, and I was like ‘Yeah, I want to be there’.”

For Kennedy, she had the luxury of watching Kailey make her decision, which made it all the simpler. Kennedy had only started to blow up when she committed to the Cougars. Among the schools she had offers from were UVU, Utah State, BYU, and Pepperdine.

“Kennedy committed so much earlier,” Megan said. “It was just way easier because she’s so early and the coaches really didn’t get to call her much. As she was deciding, she just said I cannot picture myself anywhere but BYU.”

Not only did Kennedy have the luxury of watching her older sister (Kennedy is the taller sister) go through her recruiting process, but Kailey was also recruiting her to BYU to try and recreate the Woolston-to-Woolston magic from their season at Lone Peak. With eyes set on becoming a household BYU name like the Hamsons and the Kaufusis.

“That’d be awesome,” said Kennedy. “We’re gonna be. We like that.”

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