It's no secret Wildcats forward Kaely Maltman has a long history of Linfield alumni in her blood.
Maltman's parents, two of her uncles, a grandmother and both grandfathers were involved in Wildcat life, so attending Linfield was a no-brainer. After all, it's a family tradition.
But that's not the whole story.
What happened once the Sandy, Ore., native stepped on the basketball court was like nothing she expected.
Maltman found more people to count among her loved ones.
“I love my teammates. I'm so thankful for such a great group of girls. They are my second family and I'd go crazy without them. They mean the world to me,” Maltman says. “Coach Robin Potera-Haskins has also had an immense impact on my basketball career and has acted as a second mom and mentor to me. She has taught me so many things beyond basketball that have impacted me immensely.”
For co-captain and best friend Katelyn Henson, the feeling is mutual.
“Kaely is the reason our team loves each other so much. Although she's a senior basketball stud, she's the one who always stays after practice to rebound for the underclassmen, she's the one who will go out of her way to get you water during timeouts, and she's the one who is the first to pat you on the back after the game.
“She loves us all so much, and we all try to follow suit. Kaely is the glue that holds the team together.”
Linfield assistant coach, Stephanie Fennimore, who was once Maltman's teammate, agrees.
“We all have tremendous respect and admiration for Kaely. She obviously contributes a huge amount to the team with her ability to score and out-hustle her opponents, but more important than her stats is the fact that Kaely's a true leader. She is a person of great character and cares more about each girl on the team than herself,” Fennimore says. “We're so thankful for the impact Kaely has had on the younger girls and can't thank her enough for reminding us what being a leader really looks like.”
Off the court, the exercise science and nursing major is no different.
As Henson puts it, “I'm pretty lucky to have Kaely as my best friend. She's a friend like she is a leader on the team: a person who loves others through her actions and carries herself with a quiet confidence. She demands respect by giving respect. She's the friend who will bring you a Slurpee and chocolate if she knows you're cramming for an exam the next day.”
Maltman intends to carry with her the fantastic leadership skills and caring personality into the rest of her life, including her career.
Combining a major in exercise science with nursing is no easy task, but Maltman has learned to persevere through it and only has plans to help.
“For my career, I'd love to work with kids in the nursing field. I'd also like to coach basketball.”
“I'm a kid at heart. My favorite movie is The Parent Trap, and I'm obsessed with Taylor Swift. I'm also passionate about following Jesus and I also absolutely love little kids.”
Henson also sees, and encourages, the kid in Maltman.
“She's pretty goofy,” Henson says. “For example, she'll randomly start speaking in a British accent sometimes. It's contagious! Eventually our whole team ends up talking like we're straight out of Harry Potter!”
Putting aside her goofy ways, Maltman is impressive on the court. With a .587 shooting percentage and 130 rebounds so far this season, she is a force to be reckoned with.
And in a historical context, Maltman recently became just the third Linfield women's basketball player to total more than 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
This milestone accomplishment places her among rare company. Only Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Tina (Rappin) Hill and Maltman's former teammate, Gretchen Owens, have ever achieved such impressive statistics in a Linfield uniform.
Yet Maltman remains humble as always, according to Henson.
“Rather than having pride, she leads our team with humility and kindness, which is rare to have in a person who has as much talent and gets as much attention as she does.”
No matter where she goes, there is no doubt Maltman will demonstrate to everyone she meets what it means to be part of a family.
- Kelsey McGarry '16