WHEELERSBURG — Ellie Kallner, continuing her basketball career, will be doing so at that school up north.
No, not THAT school up north.
However, Concordia University is indeed located in Ann Arbor, Mich. — and Kallner will call Concordia home upon her graduation in May.
That’s because Wheelersburg’s Kallner, the five-foot and six-inch senior guard, recently announced her intention to play college basketball at Concordia — an NAIA institution and a member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
In her socially-distant signing ceremony — in which Kallner was flanked by her parents Aaron and Jodi Kallner, members of the Wheelersburg High School girls basketball coaching staff and her Lady Pirate teammates — she officially put pen to paper, and thus became a Cardinal.
Kallner — already a two-time Southern Ohio Conference Division II first-team honoree and (Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association) all-Southeast District Division III selection — will play for Concordia coach Kiefer Haffey, and should adapt quickly to the Cardinals’ style of play.
She joins her older sister Abbie Kallner among the college basketball ranks —as the elder Kallner is a member of the Shawnee State University women’s program.
In choosing Concordia, Kallner considered the school “my best fit” for future pursuits.
She also talked with “great schools” Mount Union and Marietta College, but “I choose Concordia because I felt right at home when I walked on campus.”
“Concordia made me feel welcomed and was very attentive to my interests and showed me the city of Ann Arbor along with the campus,” said Kallner. “It was the best fit for me. For basketball, it’s very fast-paced and they get the ball up the court. Coach Haffey’s environment and energy was appealing, so I can’t wait to play for him.”
As for Wheelersburg fans not exactly familiar with Concordia?
The Cardinals’ WHAC competition includes the likes of Siena Heights and Lourdes University, as the latter is located near Toledo — and often competes in non-conference action against Shawnee State.
The WHAC consists of a dozen colleges and universities in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio — and was founded in 1992, created as a successor group for the now-defunct NAIA District 23.
Kallner, as a sophomore, was an all-Southeast District Honorable Mention choice —and moved up a level to third team as a junior, following the graduation of her sister and her role changing to take on more scoring, ballhandling, rebounding and defending.
She said simply that playing for Wheelersburg and two-decade head coach Dusty Spradlin “more than readied” her for the next level.
“I feel more than ready. He (Spradlin) has pushed and continues to push me to be an active point guard and a tough defender. He challenges me every game and makes me a better player each day,” she said.
Kallner continued by praising her Lady Pirate teammates, as Wheelersburg was the Division III runner-up her sophomore season —followed by another SOC II title and sectional championship her junior campaign.
As of Thursday night, the Lady Pirates were on a whopping 37-game league winning streak.
“Wheelersburg has provided me with some of the best teammates. Every player I’ve played with has made me better and continues to make me work hard,” she said.
But, Kallner said, nobody has worked her harder than her sister.
“Abbie has worked me harder than anyone I’ve ever played with. From one-on-one games in the driveway to late night shooting in the gym to showing me some pointers she has learned while playing college ball,” she said. “She makes me better.”
Kallner said she plans to major in biology, and intends to enroll in pre-med courses in preparation for future enrollment in medical school.
But that’s beyond the next four years, as Kallner continues her collegiate career at Concordia — that school up north.
“I’m beyond excited to have the opportunity to continue to play the sport that I love,” she said. “I would say that I’m relieved to have a home for the next four years, and it just makes me determined to finish out my senior year strong.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved