Chelsea student-athlete Emily McCalla signs with Concordia

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Chelsea High School student-athlete Emily McCalla saw the perfect fit for her in Concordia University.

In looking to take the next step in her life, McCalla recently announced her commitment to attend and play basketball at Concordia, the small university of just over 1,000 students in Ann Arbor.

She is looking forward to competing on the court at the next level while at the same time growing academically in the classroom. 

McCalla, a senior at CHS, has been a star basketball player the past few years.

“What drew me to Concordia were the welcoming staff and players that were there and that I got the chance to meet,” McCalla told The Sun Times News. “Over the last spring and summer, I was able to spend more time getting to know them more in depth.”

She added, “I also like the smaller campus so I can get to know my professors and classmates. The fact that it is not that far away from home, and I have lots of family in the surrounding area is definitely a bonus as well!!”

It wasn’t a tough choice really in the end, she said, and cited the other reasons behind her choice.

“I have been to campus many times going to watch basketball games or playing summer softball games at their softball field,” said McCalla. “It was comfortable to me and easiest decision ever I would say.”

She said Concordia Coach Kiefer Haffey made the choice not even feel like a choice and conveyed to her all expectations of what basketball and school would look like in a normal year.

“I also have a good friend and past AAU teammate who is a freshmen basketball player at Concordia,” McCalla said. “She has given me great insight to the program and college life in general.”

In getting to this important decision, there has been a lot of people who have helped and supported her along the way. From family and coaches, she said she couldn’t have made it without them.

“I’ve had so many great people help me get to this point,” she said. “My parents both have helped so much in pushing me to strive to get better on the basketball court and in the classroom. They have given me a great spiritual background and have taught me the importance of a faith-based life. Those life lessons, they helped to guide my decision.”

She also said her AAU coach Cathi Powell, who has coached her the past three years, helped her believe that she could get to where she wanted to be.

“She always pushed me to excel and never let me settle into complacency,” McCalla said.

And inside the gym at Chelsea High School, she's had the chance to grow into the player she is today. 

“Coach Scheffler has believed in me from the start,” she said.

During her sophomore year at CHS, she said the team was loaded with talent, similar to this year’s team, and even as the youngster on the team she was given a chance.

“He trusted and believed in my game,” she said of Scheffler.

A lot of what's motivated her is her family.

“My grandparents also have helped me tremendously by showing up to everything and being my biggest fans,” she said. “Lastly my siblings, they both have pushed me to be better as an athlete and a person, I always want to be a better role model for them, and I strive to be better every day.”

Although she is excited to look ahead, there’s still a potential season in front of her and for the varsity team at CHS. The season is currently on hold due to COVID restrictions, but she said she and her sister, who is a teammate, have been staying in shape and getting in as much practice as possible.

“Personally, my sister and I are getting any chances we can to get shots up and make sure we are staying in shape,” McCalla said. “Our strength and conditioning program at Chelsea gives us daily workouts that we do at home. As a team we have weekly Zoom calls to catch up with everyone and make sure everyone is doing good. While we are also doing team bonding activities because we lose the in person bonding, we get in a normal season.”

Being a Bulldog is important to her. 

“I will be forever grateful for being able to play sports at Chelsea High School,” she said. “The teams I have been a part of were all great leaders, people and athletes. The coaches and teammates were supportive and truly excited for my success. Also, I will look back and remember seeing my best friends in the stands and always cheering me on.”

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