2015-2016 MSA SPORTS FEMALE ATHLETE of the YEAR

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Thursday, June 30, 2016 | 11:03 PM


Amanda Kalin is so talented that she could be a Division I college player in two different sports.

On the high school level, Kalin is so talented that she is in a division all by herself – best athlete in the WPIAL.

Kalin, who recently completed her junior year at Pine-Richland High School, has been selected the MSA Sports Athlete of the Year for the 2015-16 WPIAL school year.

The 5-foot-8 Kalin had a superb junior year in both basketball and soccer. Her outstanding individual talent helped her teams thrive. Her extraordinary athletic ability is evidenced by how her college recruiting went in the past two years.

As a sophomore at Pine-Richland, she made a verbal commitment to play soccer at Rutgers of the Big Ten Conference. Kalin is a standout goalie but also a talented player in the field.

Months later, she changed her mind and decided she wanted to play college basketball. By last summer, she had earned Division I scholarship offers in basketball and eventually accepted a scholarship to Duquesne University.

But that’s the way life has always been for Kalin. It has been a ball – with a splash.

“I started playing soccer when I was 4 or 5,” said Kalin. “I didn’t play basketball until fifth grade. I hated basketball. When you’re so little, it’s terrible because you really can’t shoot, so it’s not fun.”

Kalin laughed a little. But before long, it was clear that her athletic ability was no laughing matter.

“I used to play softball and I was on the swim team, too,” said Kalin. “I played softball until I was in sixth grade and swam for Pine-Richland Aquatics. I kind of had a swimmer’s body because I had broad shoulders. In softball I was pretty bad, though. I couldn’t hit. I would just bunt all the time because I was fast and couldn’t run.”

Pine-Richland had a run of success in soccer and basketball this past school year, and Kalin fueled the runs. In soccer, she made the all-section team and was selected to the Post-Gazette All-Area team, made up of the top 10 players in the WPIAL. She scored 10 goals and helped the Rams tie for a section title.

In basketball, Kalin was selected to the MSA Sports All-Netters team, which is the top 10 players in the WPIAL. She helped Pine-Richland reach the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in 18 years. She was a versatile guard, averaging 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals a game. She was one of the WPIAL’s best shooters and had an impressive 77 3-pointers this season.

Kalin said probably her most memorable moment in sports this year came when she scored 41 points in a first-round playoff game against McKeesport. The 41 points set a new WPIAL Class AAAA playoff record. She finished the season with 1,359 career points.

“Ever since I was a freshman, it was a goal of mine to get 40 points in a game,” said Kalin.

Although Kalin has a future in basketball, don’t forget about her soccer talent. How good is she on the pitch? Well, she still plays sometimes on the Riverhounds Academy all-star team, a squad of top players from around the area. The team recently traveled to North Carolina for a tournament. Kalin can play goalkeeper or forward for the Riverhounds team. When she originally thought she would play soccer in college, she was recruited by Rutgers as a goalkeeper.

“I still enjoy soccer,” said Kalin. “It’s one sport where there is no pressure. It’s strictly for fun now. It’s a good outlet, I guess.”

During the summer, Kalin is working out with the Pine-Richland soccer and basketball teams and also playing AAU basketball for the Western Pa. Bruins. And she is playing in some games with the Riverhounds team when she has nothing going on, which is rare.

“I feel less pressure [in AAU basketball] now that I know where I’m going to play in college,” said Kalin. “But there is still some, like when the Duquesne coaches come to watch. There is pressure then. I can get real nervous. But it’s a good nervous.”

But before life on The Bluff, there is still one more year of sports at Pine-Richland. The Rams have big expectations in both soccer and basketball as a number of players are returning on both teams. Kalin is shooting high.

“I want to win a WPIAL title,” she said. “For sure.”

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