Alma's Loryn Kelley adds to her game, signs with Briar Cliff to play basketball

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Loryn Kelley was told she could be stubborn.

The Lady Airedale senior standout doesn't follow the easy path, but even two knee injuries couldn't keep her on the sidelines for long.

"My family does think I am more stubborn than simple," Kelley said. "I just like finding a different way to do things instead of taking the easy way."

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The Alma standout's stubbornness paid off as she landed a scholarship offer at Briar Cliff, an NAIA school in Sioux City, Iowa.

She signed with the school during a small ceremony on April 2.

Alma senior Loryn Kelley battles a Siloam Springs player during the 2019 season for possession. Kelley changed her game at the start of the 2020 season and landed a scholarship to Briar Cliff in Iowa.

"This was something I needed. When I was looking at colleges, I wanted something that just wasn't right down the road where I could come home every weekend," Kelley said. "My mom is taking it pretty hard. My brother is in the military and has barely been home in the past three years. So, it's going to be a big adjustment for both of my parents."

Alma coach Codey Mann, who played for Van Buren in high school, also went to Iowa to play junior college basketball.

"It's kind of weird that I end up in Iowa too," coach Mann said. "We both talked a lot about it and I told her I met my wife in Iowa, so who knows what life has in store for Loryn."

It's far removed from Kelley's dreams of playing for either LSU or Vanderbilt, but when Jasmine Stohr, an assistant coach for Briar Cliff, asked Kelley to send film from a couple of her games, things just went from there.

"Playing at that level was something I wanted to do, but there were a few bumps in the road," Kelley said. "When I got the first message from Jasmine, I thought it was a joke. We talked for a bit, and she called me again to come up for a visit. I wasn't going to drive eight hours if there wasn't an offer. I'm not even sure how they found me."

But the offer came. Even after two knee surgeries.

"Loryn has certainly taken the hard path to get where she wanted to be. She worked hard during her rehab and had dealt with a lot of adversity," Mann said. "It made her a better player and a stronger person."

That adversity helped her in the long run though. When sophomore Lydia Mann was injured during Alma's first game of the season, Kelley understood the pain her teammate was going through. 

"She was going to be a big part of what we were going to do this season," Kelley said. "I've been there. I felt the pain. It was a tough moment. We had to keep going and move on, and I had to figure out what I could do to help."

Kelley moved into the guard spot and was determined to make it work. 

"All eyes were going to be on me," she said. "I wasn't used to that. I've always had more of a supporting role on the team."

Kelley led the Lady Airedales in scoring, averaging 12 points, and rebounds at seven per game.

"She had to add new things to her game," coach Mann said. "She was good at shooting, but she was going to be guarded harder. She took pride in the way she played defense and attacked the basket. We didn't have a great year, but I am proud that Loryn did well."