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Mergen signs with Bryan College

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Kingston player was scared she wouldn't get scholarship

By The Staff

By GOOSE LINDSAY

Roane Newspapers

Kingston’s Callie Mergen is a perfect example that hard work pays off.

When Mergen first start playing basketball for Kingston High School as a freshman, she would be the first to admit that a college scholarship was nowhere in the foreseeable future. Mergen, however, has worked hard to get better and now the 6’ senior post player will be playing college basketball at Bryan College after signing scholarship papers last week.

“I’m really happy; I was scared that I wouldn’t get a scholarship,” Mergen said after her signing. “This is a dream come true because I used to be so bad at basketball.”

“I’m tremendously happy for Callie,” Kingston head coach Keith Anderson added. “When she came in as a freshman I thought there was no way she could play in college. She was just a tall girl. But she’s worked hard here and in AAU ball every year to get better. Now all that hard work and effort is paying off with a college scholarship.”

One person that did think Mergen could play was her father, Dorian, and Mergen said if it wasn’t for her dad’s encouragement that she would have given up on the game.

“If it wasn’t for my dad I would have quit a long time ago,” Mergen said. “I think my dad is the only person that ever thought I could be good when I was younger.”

Bryan head coach Jamy Bechler doesn’t know what type of player Mergen was as a youngster, but he is sure happy with what kind of player she is now.

“I think she is a great fit for us,” he said. “I like her personality, her character and how she plays on the court.”

On the court, Bechler likes the fact that Mergen is a post player that can get down the court.

“We’re one of the top rebounding teams in the country and we think she can help us there,” he said. “She also runs the floor really well and she seems to be the type of player that wants to get better. That’s why we think she’s a good fit for us and we believe we’re a good fit for her.”

“I love to run the floor,” Mergen added. “I’m really fast for a six-footer and getting down the floor is something I’m proud of.”

Mergen is also proud of her attitude.

“I think I have one of the better attitudes on the team,” she said. “When I mess up or miss a shot I don’t worry about it; I just keep playing and working to get better.”

While Mergen’s first three years at Kingston have seen her be a defensive force, coach Anderson is looking for her to score more this season following Tayler Smith’s offseason departure to Stone Memorial.

“We need Callie and a lot of people to improve this year on offense,” Anderson said. “I know she’s put in a lot of hard wok in AAU and in practice to improve her post game on offense. We’re looking for her to be a leader this year.”

Mergen, however, believes that scoring is only one area of her game that must improve this season.

“I’ve got to be aware of everything,” she said. “I’ve got to work on catching the ball better and then I’ve got to take more open shots. In the past I’ve looked to pass the ball, but I know I’ve got to score more this season. I’ve just got to know my responsibilities and be able to help my teammates.”

If Mergen continues to develop, she could see playing time early at Bryan.

“There will be a chance she could play early,” Bechler said. “We have a couple of inside players that also play volleyball so there is a chance if she is ready.”

Bechler added that being ready would depend on three things that are the same for an incoming freshman.

“First the pace of the game is going to be a lot quicker and she’ll have to adjust to that,” he said. “Second the college game is more physical so it’s important that players get stronger. Next she will have to bring her A-game to practice every day. Everybody at the college level was an all-district type player in high school. You’ve got to work hard every day to get better at this level.”