LIMA — When Kelli Anne Stallkamp, 18, sets her mind to do something, she’s all in.
Kelli Anne recently earned recognition as a 2017 U.S. Paralympic High School Track and Field All-American. Only 71 athletes across the country achieved this status in 2017 — 37 men and 34 women.
The recognition was given to Kelli Anne for competing in the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association games held at Lake Forest High School in Illinois. She took first place in her division in her events, including shot, discus, javelin, archery and power lifting.
Kelli Anne is the daughter of Jeanna and Scott Stallkamp, of Lima. She was born with spina bifida, but nothing keeps her down.
She became interested in the track and field events after watching her boyfriend, Eric Rine, of Bowling Green compete the previous year.
“He also competed, so I decided to do it,” said Kelli Anne.
Kelli Anne’s personal trainer, Denny Marsh, recommended a local throwing coach, Sam Gomer, and she also worked with Duff Maderas, of Bowling Green.
“She was also training with Denny doing a lot of weight lifting, which helped her. I don’t think she even realized what her strength was,” said Jeanna.
The paralympic power lifting coach approached Kelli Anne at the event telling her if she was interested in doing power lifting she would be interested in having her.
Although Kelli Anne will not be able to attend this year’s Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association games, she will compete in the Endeavor Games in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then proceed on to the Junior Nationals which will be held in July.
“You need to compete in certain paralympic events, and if you get certain scores, then you can compete in the junior nationals,” said Jeanna.
“But really, she was just doing all of this for cross training,” said Jeanna.
Kelli Anne’s passion lies in the sport of sled hockey. She is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team.
“It is the main women’s national team and they’re going to the World Cup in May to defend their title. They are going to the Czech Republic this year. This will be her first international trip overseas,” said Jeanna.
A fundraiser will be held to help offset the cost for the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team to travel to the Czech Republic from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24 at Tamo-O Shanter Hockey Rink, 7060 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania. The team is looking for sponsors and donations.
Currently Kelli Anne plays on three hockey teams.
“My junior team is the Northwest Ohio Arctic Wolves, out of Bowling Green; I play on the Columbus Blue Jackets B team, which is an adult team and then the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team,” said Kelli Anne.
“I would have never imagined that she would play hockey,” said Jeanna.
Kelli Anne was urged to play hockey while at Children’s Hospital. She attended a workshop to learn how to play in Bowling Green, and the family ended up developing the Northwest Ohio Arctic Wolves team in Bowling Green.
She tried out for the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team and was on the development team for two years prior to making the team this year. Tryouts are held every year in August in Philadelphia.
“For the Winter Paralympics, which we will be seeing shortly, we originally thought that they [U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team] were going to be able to play exhibition this year, but unfortunately there aren’t enough teams from other countries to have enough players to field a team. That’s why they are going to the World Cup, and part of that is to help train and get more of an awareness with other countries. They are hoping to compete in the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing, China,” said Jeanna. “Her team especially, they are really the leaders in getting this women’s movement in getting women to play sled hockey and that’s exciting to be a part of that. She would be 22-years-old in the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing, China.”
While Kelli Anne is enjoying the sled hockey teams, she and her mom have been instrumental in starting a wheelchair tennis program at Westwood Tennis & Fitness Center.
“The one thing that we have found is that you have to travel quite a distance to do activities and it was nice to start a program here that people who are physically disabled can do activities here in Lima,” said Jeanna.
Kelli Anne’s future goals include attending Wright State University Lake Campus in Celina majoring in early childhood education.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.