Kali Jones is a source of strength and dominance for Wildcats in the paint.
Setting a career season high for rebounds and blocks this season, she’s been a big contributor to the team’s success.
But, it’s what she brings off the court that has had an impact not only on her teammates and coaches, but on people in the community
“She’s always got everybody’s backs,” said senior guard Kayla Goth. “She’s always looking for the positive in life and she’s great. She’s a really great friend to a lot of people on this team, including myself.”
Jones joined the cats last season after transferring from a junior college, during the peak of her battle with alopecia.
“The stress of getting back to division one was kicking in and every day,” said Jones. “It was falling out. I’d take a shower, it would just fall out. I’d brush my hair, it’d fall out. It was just very discouraging.”
The disease causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles, resulting in hair loss all over the body.
After months of treatments with no results and the constant discomfort of wigs, Jones reached a breaking point.
“That phone call to my parents was tough,” said Jones. “I remember I was sitting in my room at a big closet mirror. I was just sitting in front of my mirror just staring at myself talking to my parents and I was like, ‘I think I’m gonna do this'”.
Jones shaved her head completely.
“It was a relief,” said Jones.
The support from her team helped her regain what the disease took away from her — her self-confidence.
“It just boosted my confidence which was amazing,” said Jones.
Since that moment, Jones has embraced her new hair style and has inspired many others in the process.
“Tons of people have come up to me saying they know someone with alopecia,” said Jones. “So, that’s awesome. I know this one little girl Addison. She came to a couple games. She has my whole heart.”
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Mittie said seeing how far Jones has come in her journey makes him extremely proud.
“To be able to have this platform and this outlet for her to know that she is positively impacting others is really been fun for me to watch and i think fun for her teammates to be a part of,” said Mittie.
Jones said if there’s one thing she wants others to take away from her journey, it’s that being different isn’t a bad thing.
“Just accept who you are. Love who you are and embrace it,” said Jones.
Jones said she’s been in talks with members of the K-State basketball staff about hosting a basketball camp for kids with alopecia this summer.