Hollingsworth Finds Her Place In New York

When Quanitra Hollingsworth first picked up a basketball in ninth grade, it was just something to do after school.

As an 11 year old playing basketball in high school, Hollingsworth was usually the youngest player on the court. When she began to excel, her mother informed her that if she was going to play, she was going to have to get serious about it.

“She used to have me outside doing drills and I used to hate it,” Hollingsworth said. “She was my biggest inspiration though to go hard at it.”

While Hollingsworth was a talented basketball player at a young age, she also showed an advanced academic mind, testing at a tenth grade level when she was in the fourth grade. It was decided then that she would skip two grades and begin her next year as a seventh grader rather than in fifth grade. As Hollingsworth continued her schooling, she was determined to continue taking math courses.

“I’ve always had a passion for math,” Hollingsworth said. “I told all my guidance counselors all the way through college, every semester I need a math course. That was just something I needed.”

She finished high school at the age of 15 and was off to go play for the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. As a young woman on a college campus, it was overwhelming for Hollingsworth, until she received some advice from one of her coaches.

“My post coach told me ‘when you step out there, I want you to think of yourself as a woman amongst girls, no matter how old you are,’” Hollingsworth said. “With your presence, you should go out there and have that mentality each and every day. I carried that mentality through college.”

Hollingsworth, or “Q,” as most of her teammates refer to her as, became a force at VCU, finishing as the school’s all-time leading rebounder (1,114) and finished second in scoring (1,523). After graduating as a young 20-year old, Hollingsworth became the ninth overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2009 WNBA draft.

The beginning of Hollingsworth’s WNBA career was a struggle at times mentally. Hollingsworth said she got a little intimidated and was trying to find herself. Then, this past May 27th, she found a new home with the Liberty, and a new beginning. In New York, Hollingsworth has competed with confidence, defending the post with tenacity and aggressively attacking the basket on a fast break. It is something she prides herself on.

“A lot of coaches say defense and rebounding is just effort, but I kind of take it personally,” Hollingsworth said with a grin. “Not everybody is going to defend like I defend and not everybody is going to rebound like I rebound. I go up against these big names all the time and in my mind I’m thinking ‘Q, when you step out on that floor, they are just another athlete. So you go out there and you make them work for everything.’ That’s the approach I take.”

Hollingsworth has continued to show improvement throughout the season on the offensive end. Normally at the end of practice, she can be seen working on post moves and refining her offensive game with assistant coach Monique Ambers, who says Hollingsworth still has room to grow as she begins to realize how good she can be.

“She’s tall, she’s strong and she’s quick,” Ambers said. “She has this whole skill set that she hasn’t tapped into yet. Every day though, the light is coming and she’s realizing that she can do this.”

With the Liberty, she has found a place where she has become a confident player and has become one of head coach John Whisenant’s most reliable players off the bench.

“She fits great with the team, her personality and what she brings to the team chemistry wise,” center Kia Vaughn said. “She motivates the rest of us even as a younger player.”

While playing in the WNBA, Hollingsworth is continuing her studies, as she is currently completing her Master’s Degree online at the University of Florida in computer engineering. She has been interested in computer engineering since she was eight years old and hopes to transition to the field of artificial intelligence once her long and successful basketball career ends.