After earning first team All-Conference honors twice, MVC Player of the =Year once, and leading the UNI Panthers to their first two NCAA Tournaments in program history, what could there possibly be left for Jacqui Kalin to accomplish?
Kalin says, "I kind of felt like my reason for being back this year was not only to do the things like we've done before, but to also help lead a group of kids and get them prepared for having and continuing a great program."
...Spoken like a true team player. But Jacqui has become even more than that this season, acting as an extension of the coaching staff, and being the closest thing you'll find to a "player-manager".
"She's literally an extension of me on the floor, and I think any time you have someone with her leadership skills, you have to give them a lot of responsibilities, and she has just gotten better and better, both on and off the court", says UNI coach Tanya Warren.
"I take pride in that. What I think is cool is that as much as I'm helping them learn, I'm still learning myself, and every day I find myself asking questions, especially to out coaches, but even to our young players", adds Kalin.
Jacqui was forced to redshirt two season of her career, due to two separate injuries. But rather than lamenting the woes of an injured athlete, Kalin continues to count her blessings.
Kalin says, "You hear people talk all the time about how they wish... their college years were the best years of their life, and they wish they could go back, so for that reason, I feel very lucky that I've gotten to appreciate playing college basketball for a long time."
Coach Warren adds, ""You hear people talk all the time about how they wish their college years were the best years of their life, and they wish they could go back, so for that reason, I feel very lucky that I've gotten to appreciate playing college basketball for a long time."
So as she closes out her final season as a Panther, Jacqui's biggest accomplishment may be preparing this team for a future without her.
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