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The unexpected meet & greet that made Toyosi Onabanjo a Jayhawk

Early signs of support led former Iowa Hawkeye to KU

5 min read
KU's Toyosi Onabanjo celebrates with teammate Camryn Turner during a recent KU victory. [Chance Parker photo]

Junior middle blocker Toyosi Onabanjo knew Kansas was the next stop in her volleyball journey after she met KU Athletic Director Travis Goff during her first visit to Lawrence back in May.

“I've never been exposed to an AD before on any visit that I had in my entire career,” Onabanjo recently told R1S1 Sports while discussing her decision to come to KU and time with the Jayhawks so far. “I think a lot of schools don't understand (how cool it is) just to have or just to show like recruits, people who are coming in, how much their AD supports the sport.”

"... Even in that brief conversation, I truly felt how much he cared about all the athletics and especially volleyball, so it was awesome.” — Toyosi Onabanjo on KU AD Travis Goff

Her conversation with Goff, which came as part of a whirlwind tour of the KU campus, confirmed what she already was leaning toward in her mind — that Kansas was the right place for her to continue her volleyball career.

“I think just having that conversation with Travis was just awesome,” she said. “And it wasn't like the longest; it was super brief. But even in that brief conversation, I truly felt how much he cared about all the athletics and especially volleyball, so it was awesome.”

Since coming to KU, Onabanjo has felt that same type of love and support across the athletic department, but especially from her teammates and the KU volleyball coaching staff.

“When I came on my visit in May, they really just made me feel so welcome,” she said. “And they set up so many conversations for me on my visit, for example, with Travis (Goff) and (senior women’s associate AD) Nicole (Corcoran). Having those conversations really solidified KU for me. And those people really just made the university and the athletic center just feel amazing, like how supportive they are of the volleyball community and every sport. It was just great.”

Onabanjo began her college volleyball career playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes, where she developed into a real force at the front of the net. She totaled 183 kills in 100 sets her sophomore year with the Hawkeyes, averaging 1.83 kills per set.

Onabanjo received more playing time after just 38 sets played her freshman year and just 26 kills the entire season.

Since Onabanjo’s arrival, the Jayhawks have continued to climb in the rankings, and the Jayhawks, who currently sit in third place in the Big 12 standings at 18-4 overall and 9-3 in Big 12 play, have been a mainstay in the AVCA poll.

Onabanjo’s presence on this Kansas team has not gone unnoticed. The junior is fourth on the team in kills with 163 kills in 78 sets played. Not only is she averaging more than two kills per set, Onabanjo is hitting an impressive .302 on the season.

And it’s not just the stats and the kills that show up for Onabanjo on the floor, it’s her character and energy that she feels makes her unique to this Jayhawk squad.

“I would say I definitely just bring the energy, like I love screaming, cheering, all that stuff,” she said. “I think it's a super-important part of the game. And I think not having that on a team is very detrimental.”

She continued: “But I like to think for myself, in tough situations, I kind of see myself as the (energy) person. I'm like, ‘It's OK, guys. We'll be OK, everything's gonna be fine. Let's just enjoy the game while we can.’ I think it's hard to play a sport if you're not happy playing that sport, so I definitely think I'm just that person that's just always energized.”

KU's Toyosi Onabanjo celebrates with teammate Camryn Turner during a recent KU victory. [Chance Parker photo]

Onabanjo is constantly bringing the energy and the flair in every point she plays, and she makes sure her teammates bring that same energy with her.

One of Onabanjo’s biggest motivators to work hard and play hard is her family.

“Both of my parents are immigrants from Nigeria, and they came to the U.S. in 2001 and they just wanted me and my sister to have a better life than what they did in Nigeria,” Onabanjo said. “I play for them. I do everything for them. I’m an engineering major for them, like they just have been such a big part of my life, athletically and academically, and how much they sacrifice for me and my sister just to have what we have. I'm just so thankful for them and I'm so appreciative of everything they've done for me.”

With Lawrence being closer to her family in Houston, a few members of Onabanjo’s family have been able to watch her play in home games. Onabanjo said her family is happy to see her succeeding and having fun with the Jayhawks.

“They weren't able to come as much when I was at Iowa, so I think they like that Kansas isn't as far away,” Onabanjo said. “They've just been enjoying it so much and I think they're just super-proud that I came to KU and they're so happy I did. They absolutely love the coaching stuff, so I think they're just happy I'm in a happy place.”

Wave the Wheat's Volleyball Appreciation Week

• The unexpected meet & greet that made Toyosi Onabanjo a Jayhawk

• A look at KU in the rankings & their chances of hosting this postseason

• Molly Schultz: 'The definition of happiness and sunshine'

• 'K-State killer' London Davis delivered one of KU's top performances of the week

• Familiarity, film & extra work the path back for Reagan Cooper

• Junior Caroline Bien goes from the back row to the big time again

— For tickets to all KU athletic events, visit