McCallister becomes first Lady Statesmen to earn Sheets Award

By Brad Morris

Maren McCallister can often be bound on the premises of Marvin Webster Memorial Park in South Bloomfield, playing basketball and pushing herself to loftier heights by taking on all challengers.

“Playing over at the park is where I really improved my game and pushed myself, especially playing against boys from Teays Valley and boys from Logan Elm,” said McCallister, a 5-foot-11 senior forward. “I wasn’t afraid to mix it up with them since I am a taller and longer player and that really helped me with the physicality of the game, along with making moves to get to the basket and scoring under the rim.”

McCallister’s hard work paid off during her four years of starting varsity, including leading the Statesmen to an 18-win campaign this season where she averaged 24.5 points, 9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

She was recently recognized for her exploits by earning the Jeff Sheets Award, presented to the top senior girls basketball player in Pickaway County.

New Hope senior Maren McCallister is presented The Jeff Sheets Award by her coach and dad, Brian McCallister.

“This award means a lot to me and it’s quite an honor to win it,” Maren McCallister said. “To be the first girls player from New Hope to win the award shows that you can play at a small school and still be recognized and gives younger girls coming through our school something to shoot for if they want to.

“I also have to thank my teammates and coaches, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of their help and support.”

Besides spending countless hours on the basketball court in South Bloomfield, McCallister also credits playing AAU basketball for the Buckeye State Blast, coached by Tyler Bates, for helping to develop her game.

“I play for a team based out of Akron, so there is a lot of travel but playing that competition has also challenged me to become a better player,” McCallister said. “Most of the girls are from northern Ohio and we have a pretty good team. I’ve become more comfortable moving without the basketball, cutting, screening and rebounding comes natural to me since I am a longer player.

“It’s fun to keep track of those girls to see how they are doing during their high school season and for them to keep track of me and what I am doing.”

McCallister has been the centerpiece for the New Hope over the last four years, driving to the basket, rebounding, helping to handle the basketball and creating offense for her teammates.

The Lady Statesmen have posted a 53-33 record over her tenure, including beating Ohio High School Athletic Association opponents Westfall (three times), Amanda-Clearcreek, Grandview Heights, Chillicothe, Columbus Academy, Whitehall (twice), Fairfield Christian (twice), Heath, Huntsville, Ark. and Washington Court House.

New Hope’s Maren McCallister drives to the basket during an Ohio Christian School Athletic Association state semifinal earlier this month at Ohio Christian University.

“Thanks to Maren and the rest of our senior class for leading the way, we’ve been able to step up and play mostly OHSAA schools the last few years and earn some respect for our school and the program we have,” New Hope coach Brian McCallister said. “Obviously, if you can play teams like Amanda, Logan Elm and Westfall, those games mean more to us because they are local rivals, and you see those girls around town or in open gyms.

“We are trying to build a platform and we want to be good neighbors to the public schools in the county and the area. Obviously, New Hope is a Christian school and we want to live by Christian principles of being a good neighbor, working with our neighbors and having everyone benefit from playing each other and working together.”

McCallister discussed coaching his daughter for the last four years and some of the moments they have shared together.

“Honestly, there have been some ups and downs and sometimes I have to remind myself that I am probably setting the bar a little high for Maren, because she’s my daughter,” he said. “I am a pretty laid back guy until the scoreboard turns on and then I am pretty intense. Maren’s mom is athletic, so she has qualities from the both of us.

“Maren is as strong of a competitor as anyone I have been around, so that’s something we have in common. She’s a quiet competitor, but she has a strong will to push and challenge herself. I’ve really enjoyed coaching her the last four years and the success we’ve had together, but I am also looking forward to becoming a fan again and watching her from the stands.”

Added Maren: “We banter back and forth in the car riding home from a game and sometimes we have different opinions on some things. Overall, I am grateful to have my dad coach me and push me to become a better player. I appreciate the support from my parents.”

One of the highlights of the season for the Statesmen was a trip following Christmas to Florida.

Unfortunately, they were caught in the avalanche of canceled flights after the holiday and had to drive to Florida, missing one of the three games they were supposed to play.

“It started off being a little stressful with all of that stuff going on, but once we got down to Florida we had a blast,” Maren McCallister said. “We got to play a couple of games, we had some pool time where we could hangout and bond as a team and we also got to go to Universal Orlando.

“It was definitely one of the highlights of the season that we had.”

McCallister reflected on her fellow seniors — Jenna Tripp, Eden Leist and Ivy Hines — and the run that they have had together.

“Three of us have been playing basketball since the fifth grade, so we’ve been friends for a while and they are all good teammates,” she said. “We’ve grown to trust each other on the court over the years, knowing what each other is going to do and we’ve had a lot of fun playing basketball and being friends, especially this year since it was our last together here at New Hope.”

McCallister finished her career with 1,752 points, which puts her fifth all time on the greater Pickaway County scoring list behind Shayna Harmon (1,893, Teays Valley), Ridge Young (1,798, Logan Elm), David Myers (1,796, Williamsport) and Alyssa Evans (1,776, Amanda-Clearcreek).

“We lost some games my freshman season to COVID. It would have been awesome to be at the top of that list, but there are some outstanding players on that list and I am honored to be (in the top five),” McCallister said. “God blessed me with some talent and a hard work ethic.”

New Hope senior Maren McCallister poses for a photo with the Jeff Sheets Award as the 2023 recipient.

McCallister will next suit up for Concordia University, an NAIA school situated in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just minutes from the campus of the University of Michigan.

“I’ll make sure to pack some scarlet-and-gray, so everyone knows that I am from Ohio,” McCallister laughed. “I like the school, the campus and there is a lot to do around there.

“I wanted to play at a school away from home, but still be close enough for my parents to come watch me play and to also come back home to Circleville and visit.”

McCallister is undecided on a major but is considering social work and business as potential two potential avenues to explore.

Jeff Sheets Award winners

1982 — Melissa Azbell, Westfall

1983 — Teresa Musselman, Westfall

1984 — Teena Keith, Teays Valley

1985 — Holly Hastings, Teays Valley

1986 — Laura James, Teays Valley

1987 — Amy Wright, Teays Valley

1988 — Paula Everts, Teays Valley

1989 — Lesley Wilson, Logan Elm

1990 — Amy Colborn, Teays Valley

1991 — Ursula Stonerock, Circleville

1992 — Trina Muzingo, Teays Valley

1993 — Gail Adams, Logan Elm

1994 — Julie Good, Logan Elm

1995 — Mindy Fusetti,Teays Valley

1996 — Bridget Oberer, Teays Valley

1997 — Anna Musselman, Teays Valley

1998 — Laurie Barr, Teays Valley

1999 — Kristin Griebel, Circleville

2000 — Tara Wright, Westfall

2001 — Ashley Palmer, Circleville

2002 — Kelsey Schleich, Westfall

2003 — Samantha Hood, Teays Valley

2004 — Kristen Tisdale, Logan Elm

2005 — Amanda Angles, Westfall

2006 — Keri Callihan, Teays Valley

2007 — Andrea Anderson, Logan Elm

2008 — Casse Mogan, Circleville

2009 — Kellie Willis, Circleville

2010 — Alyvia Clark, Logan Elm

2011 — Emily Robinson, Logan Elm

2012 — Caitlin Cain, Teays Valley

2013 — Taylor Saxton, Logan Elm

2014 — Rebekah Branham, Circleville

2015 — Mallory Grabans, Teays Valley

2016 — Shayna Harmon, Teays Valley

2017 — Jordin Blakeman, Circleville

2018 — Jill Congrove, Logan Elm

2019 — Reagan Willingham, Teays Valley

2020 — Abby Hatter, Logan Elm

2021 — Kenzie McConnell, Circleville

2022 — Jenna Horsley, Teays Valley

2023 — Maren McCallister, New Hope

— The award is named in honor of former Teays Valley coach Jeff Sheets, who amassed a 313-103 record in his 18 seasons leading the Vikings. Teays Valley won nine Mid-State League titles, five Central District crowns and finished as a regional runner-up twice during his leadership of the program. Sheets went on to serve as superintendent of Teays Valley and is currently serving as superintendent of Westfall.

Pickaway County Family YMCA
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