WHEELERSBURG — Whether it’s a basketball in her hands or a soccer ball at her feet, Wheelersburg’s Ellie Kallner can do just about anything successfully.
Kallner, who will be entering her junior year this coming fall, helped the Pirates win a Division III district championship last season before the team finished at 18-2 overall.
The district crown was the program’s third consecutive title and you can bet your bottom dollar this year’s group will be looking for a fourth. But they’ll have to chase that while dealing with key departures, adjusting to new faces and sifting through an always challenging schedule.
Before all of that starts to take form, we caught up with Kallner to discuss her personal improvements, a couple of names that might surprise fans and much more.
Question: After another successful season last fall, how do you follow it up with more of the same?
Kallner: Last year was very successful and I think what’s going to help the team the most this year is chemistry. I think if the team can have a strong connection, then it will be easier for us to play as one on the field. We have a lot of talent this year and I’m thinking, if we can bring it all together, through chemistry, then the outcome will be greater.
Q: Your team definitely lost some talented players to graduation. However, that always frees up room for others to step up. How are you expecting your team to fill those holes?
EK: I think the crowd is going to see a lot of new faces this year doing big things. I think the goals are going to come from a lot of different people and everyone is going to get different looks this year. There are some big roles to fill after losing three very talented players, but I think they are going to be filled very nicely.
Q: Can you give me a name that may be under the radar? Which one of your teammates will surprise fans this season with their level of play?
EK: Jordan Jennings is going to be a senior this year. She is an amazing player who has been a huge aspect in our defensive game. I think we are going to see a little bit more of her talent this year as she moves around the field. She has a strong foot and controls the ball very well. She’s also a great teammate and I’m excited to play with her one last time. Also, Lani Irwin has been working a lot this summer and I think she’ll surprise more people than she already has with her toughness and talent. She hasn’t always played soccer but she has dedicated a lot of time to get better and I think it is going to show this year.
Q: Personally, what have you worked on the most over the summer and what do you feel you bring to the soccer pitch this fall?
EK: This summer, I’ve been working on making my first touch better and being more confident with the ball at my feet. I’ve also been working on goal angles and different placements, so when I’m given the opportunity, I’m able to put the ball in the back of the net. And, of course, just making sure my body is in shape for all the running I’m about to do this fall.
Q: In the SOC, Wheelersburg is looked at as the favorite. But a title won’t be handed to you. Can you describe what it’s like playing in your conference and what makes it so fun?
EK: The SOC is filled with a lot of talented teams and players. The competition is never easy, which is why it’s fun. Playing in a tough conference prepares us for the tournament and over the past few years, teams like Waverly and Minford have pushed our program, making the conference more competitive and exciting at the same time.
Q: I can’t let you go without asking you a basketball-related question. How’s this summer going and what have you enjoyed most about your AAU team?
EK: AAU has always been one of my favorite things about the summer. I’ve always enjoyed playing with and meeting new people every year. My team is a lot of fun and I’ve become close with some great people and players.
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