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Campbell breaking records at hometown school
Feb 11, 2013

Originally published in the Battle Creek Enquirer Feb. 9, 2013

By Nick Buckley, The Enquirer

OLIVET Fear is not something Olivet College junior Kelsey Campbell experiences often.

The point guard doesn’t shy away from taking the big shot, or from threading a defense with her dazzling passing ability. When it comes to defense and rebounding, she doesn’t back down against bigger opponents.

It’s those attributes that helped the 2010 Olivet High School graduate break the school and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) record for assists in a game and follow that effort up with the first triple-double in program history.

“We call her our floor general. When she’s on the floor, we’re a much better team,” said Olivet College head coach Nicole Burford. “She takes care of the ball, a good decision maker. Her passing is crazy to watch, because she gets it in the right spot at the right time, which is huge.”

Campbell is posting ridiculous numbers in leading the Comets to their finest season to date. Olivet has already broken the school record for wins in a season with a 15-9 mark, and will look to claim its first MIAA championship when it begins the league tournament on Feb. 20.


Campbell broke the MIAA single-game record for assists in a 79-66 victory over Alma, dishing out 16 helpers. That is tied for the most in a game this season among all NCAA players, regardless of division.

In the Comets’ next game, a 69-37 win over Kalamazoo, she recorded the first triple-double in Olivet women’s basketball history with 10 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

“When I started playing in high school, that’s when I started throwing assists and getting my teammates involved more,” Campbell said. “So assists mean more than my personal triple-double.”

Currently, Campbell leads the MIAA and ranks 17th in Division 3 in assists per game at 5.34. She is ranked seventh in the league in scoring (10.4 ppg), third in 3-point percentage (.381) and fifth in minutes played (31.09 pg).

As a sophomore in 2011-12, she broke the Olivet single-season assist record with 135 on her way to All-MIAA second team honors. She has 128 assists through 24 games this season, and if she continues her pace, she will break the school career record of 364, set by Amy Brackenwagen from 2004-08.


Campbell wouldn’t be setting any records had it not been for some difficult times up north.

After helping Olivet High School to a 20-0 regular season and earning All-State honorable mention honors in 2010, Campbell was given a scholarship to play Division 2 ball up at Northern Michigan University.

Her freshman year for the Wildcats, Campbell appeared in 23 games. She made 15 assists, 16 turnovers and averaged 1.1 points per game.

While she enjoyed her freshman experience playing basketball, it wasn’t the right fit for her academically.

“Went up there, spent a year there. I liked basketball up there, but schooling wasn’t for me,” Campbell said. “So I decided to come home.”


Campbell has thrived in a more familiar setting. She sees family and her former coaches at many of Olivet’s home games. She even gets to play alongside the player she admired most growing up in Olivet.

Chelsea Ciba, a 2006 Olivet High School graduate, set the Michigan High School Athletic Association single-season record for steals before playing her freshman season at Western Michigan University. But like Campbell, Ciba decided to continue her college basketball career on her hometown hardwood.

This season is the first time the two have played together. When Ciba was a senior at Olivet, Campbell was an eighth grader and the team ball girl.

“Before games, she would go in our gym and shoot, I would go in there and rebound for her. I would wear her warmup top,” Campbell said of Ciba. “So getting to play with her is nice, because I looked up to her a lot in high school… Going though high school, my head coach (Rob Fleming) told me pretty much try and base my game off of her, so I watched all her games and tried to play the game like she did.”

Both players are benefiting from their homecoming, as Ciba currently leads the MIAA in steals per game at 2.58. And Olivet is benefiting from having two homegrown talents on the floor together.

“It just shows that you can come here in your backyard and play and stay home and represent where you are from,” Burford said.

Campbell has a few tattoos, but the most visible is a piece of home she brings with her everywhere she goes. Just above her left ankle, it features a cross with words that honor of her best friend, the late Anthony Dane “A.D.” Thelen, who died as the result of an automobile accident before his junior year at Olivet in 2008.

“People get sad when I tell them about it, but it’s not. It’s a good thing,” Campbell said with a smile. “It lets people know about him.”


Campbell’s basketball talents have brought her full-circle from Olivet, to Marquette and back to Olivet. And Campbell is proud that she will end her basketball career next year in an Olivet jersey.

After that, the criminal justice major with a 3.90 GPA is excited to begin her new career and put her degree to use working in prisons.

Campbell, whose favorite television show happens to be “Lockup Raw,” wants to work in a correctional facility.

“Mom wasn’t too happy when I told her, but she’s OK with it now,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s qualities on the basketball court quiet confidence with an ability to make others around her better should serve her well in the next phase of her life.

But first, the hard-nosed player hopes to bring a championship to the small, blue-collar town that raised her.

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