Freshman forward dominates Big Sky

She has finesse down low, she’s undersized but powerful, she plays hard every minute and she never lets up underneath the hoop. Freshman phenom forward Kelsey Kahle is an electrifying player with the skills and numbers to easily be considered the most valuable Viking on Portland State’s women’s basketball squad.

There is no doubt that Kelsey Kahle is in position to be the Freshman of the Year in the Big Sky Conference. She leads the Big Sky in both points per game with 18.3 and rebounds per game with almost nine. She dominates her opponents and makes her teammates look great. But she doesn’t credit her dominance to her own skill.

After years of losing and disappointment, Kahle leads a group of fantastic freshmen that could return women’s basketball back to glory. Portland State wasn’t always Kahle’s first choice. In fact, college wasn’t even her first option.

Kahle is from Aurora, Ore., where she was a three-sport athlete at North Marion High.

Before she decided she wanted to play basketball for PSU she wanted to be a part of the U.S. Army.

“At one point I thought I was going to go into the military. I was kind of inspired – my cousin was in the army and my grandma was in the army and her brother were all in the army,” Kahle said. “So it appealed to me and it came down to: If I still want to do it after college then that’s still an opportunity I have. But this is not an opportunity that you get all the time, to play college basketball.”

After choosing the college route, Kahle selected PSU over some high-caliber institutes, including George Fox, Concordia and Gonzaga. Education has always been an important facet of her life and she has always had an interest in teaching because of her family. Her father is a teacher and her mother is heavily involved in school activities.

“My whole family, they’re all such supporters, everybody comes to the games and I have a whole cheering section up there, the whole Kahle clan,” she said with a smile.

It was not always buckets and boards for the Kahle clan. Her mother had to go through chemotherapy to battle cancer in the last few years. It wasn’t an easy thing for a teen-age girl to grow up around, but it has made Kahle’s spirit stronger. This is very evident both in person with the young woman and on the basketball court.

“My mom is one of my idols because of the things she has had to overcome – so much in the past couple years. I’ve really realized that family has gotten a lot closer,” she said. “It hits the family hard but I idolize my mom and love her more than anything.”

Kahle is a team-first player. Although she owns the big numbers, she believes every member of her team can have the same success.

“I don’t think about it to be honest. I mean, that’s great but I’d be just as happy to see someone else on my team have the stats. Everybody has their games and stands out at different moments, so it’s awesome that it is someone from Portland State, but if it was, like, Heather or Brianna I would be over there giving them a pat on the butt too,” Kahle said.

Freshman starting shooting-guard Jenni Ritter, who leads the Big Sky in steals and leads the team in assists, thinks very highly of her teammate.

“She’s amazing, she capitalizes on the good assists from her teammates,” Ritter said.

The freshmen recruits that the coaching staff has brought in have been spectacular this year, coming right in and starting. Along with Ritter and Kahle, frosh point guard Kailey Bostwick has started to come into her own as the future at that position for the Viks. Head coach Charity Elliott and assistant coach Chris Elliott brought a group of young and extremely talented girls to create the program they wanted.

“Everybody just wants it really bad, the coaches tried to bring in players that wanted a championship as bad as the girls that were already here- She [coach Elliott] has taught me that you have to be able to endure more than your opponents, you have to be more conditioned, more disciplined than the people you have to face,” Kahle said.

Not only does she appreciate the freshmen, but she also looks up to some of the older leaders of the team for support.

“I look up to Bri and Marci because they help me out in the post position and they show me what I need to work on to be able to get around those big girls,” Kahle said. “And Heather has such a drive to win, and her competitiveness and her loving personality really inspires me.”

With a caring and unselfish attitude Kahle will be a standout Viking for years to come. Whether she leads the conference in points and rebounds or assists, Kelsey Kahle will be a bright spot on the team and won’t be satisfied until she has a championship.

“It’s all a team thing, you know. It’s getting a good pass inside or following someone’s shot or an assist, so I completely attribute it to my teammates,” she said.