The maturation process of a college freshman can at times be slow and often times frustrating. The adjustment to collegiate basketball from the high school game is supposed to be difficult for an incoming freshman.
Don’t try telling that to Kaely Maltman.
Maltman, a freshman forward for the Linfield women’s basketball team, has made an immediate impact on the court for the Wildcats. In 18 starts, Maltman is leading the team with a .514 shooting percentage, while ranking second on the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game.
“I didn’t really have any set expectations and didn’t know what to expect,” recalls Maltman of her mindset coming into the year. “Prior to the season I had only played with the girls at open gyms and I just wanted to do the best I could. I love playing with the girls and it has been a great experience.”
While Maltman has made the adjustment to the college game look easy, the freshman from Sandy, Ore., has needed to grow accustomed to aspects of college life both on and off the court.
“Outside of basketball, I’ve had to get used to the classes and the level of toughness,” notes Maltman. “The classes are a lot harder, but at the same time, I like that they are challenging. As far as basketball, the biggest difference is the amount of time you have to commit. Practices are longer and the speed of the game is faster.”
From Day 1, the 5-foot-11 Maltman has given the ‘Cats a consistent inside presence. Her development has been aided by teammates and coaches.
Maltman has been fortunate to have a mentor in junior forward Chrissy Baumgartner. Baumgartner, an athletic post player known for her rebounding prowess, has given Maltman an experienced teammate who both pushes and supports her.
“Chrissy has been a great player to learn from,” notes Maltman. “She works really hard in practice and is a great rebounder. She gets after it and we don’t go easy on each other. I love the way all the older players play the game.”
For Baumgartner, it is Maltman’s energy that separates her from the typical freshman.
“Kaely is like the Energizer bunny,” says Baumgartner. “She has incredible work ethic, skill and knowledge for the game. She comes early and stays after every practice to work on her game.”
With an ability to drive to the basket and use a variety of post moves in the paint, Maltman represents a polished freshman post player. Despite her many strengths, Maltman hopes to develop her outside shooting as the season and her career continues.
Maltman’s work ethic and calming personality has grown on teammates like Baumgartner.
“It’s impossible not to have chemistry with her because she's just a hard worker 100 percent of the time,” reflects Baumgartner. “We’re lucky to have her and she has been a huge part of our success this year.”
While the 2010-11 season is the first chapter in Kaely Maltman’s Linfield career, she is not the only Maltman to attend the McMinnville campus. Both Maltman’s parents, Scott and Kim, attended Linfield. Scott received his bachelor’s degree in 1979 and Kim graduated with the class of 1978.
Despite having little connection to the Linfield athletic program growing up, the opportunity to play at the school her parents attended played a role in her decision to join the Wildcats.
“Both my parents came here and graduated here,” explains Maltman, a former three-sport star at Portland Christian High School. “The previous coach recruited me and did a good job and then I met Coach Haskins and really like her. Between that and the strong academics, I decided Linfield was the best fit.”
For Scott and Kim Maltman, the opportunity to see Kaely put on a Linfield uniform and play at Ted Wilson Gymnasium has been nothing short of exciting.
“It has brought back a lot of enjoyable memories from our college days as we have spent some time on campus watching Kaely participate in the basketball program,” reflects Scott Maltman. “It was a great time to be at Linfield during the Coach (Ad) Rutschman and Coach Wilson days.”
For Scott, basketball is only one side of the coin, as he has seen the payoff the Linfield curriculum has provided.
“We encouraged Kaely to attend Linfield because of the quality academic programs it has to offer,” notes Scott. “The school did an excellent job of preparing Kim for her veterinarian career and me to be an educator.”
As Kaely Maltman winds down her freshman season, it is hard not to look forward to the future. Having already won nine games this season, the Linfield program is clearly headed in the right direction.
“I think the program is building and it is only going to go up,” notes Maltman. “Coach (Robin) Potera-Haskins is doing a great job and she puts in so much time. There is no way this program can’t keep getting stronger with the commitment she puts into the program. She demands that we all have that same level of intensity.”
With a player such as Maltman, who stabilizes the future as well as the present, the Linfield program has a lot to look forward to.
–Eric Evenson '11