John Powell, Assistant Sports Editor

Freshman forward Tiana Kallenberger has been devoted to sports and has used her skills at George Mason University to power through defenses to put herself in the running for conference awards.

Before coming to Mason, she played for the Trojans of University High School in Irvine, Calif.

More than a decade ago, Kallenberger’s parents pushed her to play a wide variety of sports, throwing her into the world of an athlete at a young age.

She spent her time playing soccer, basketball and swimming, while involved in student council and some school clubs.

“In the beginning, I had [no skill]; it was just a bunch of running around,” Kallenberger said of the beginning of her soccer career.

Her coaches molded her into an impact soccer player, which became her biggest influence in the game.

“In addition to her exceptional soccer skills and natural athleticism, Tiana is also an extremely hard working and dedicated person,” said her former high school coach Chip Fuller. “Her individual work ethic is very rare in someone so young.”

In high school, this led to Tiana receiving All-League and All-County honors.

This season, she looked to make an impact and bring something different. Her motivation for playing the college game showed as she was constantly running, both in practice and during games.

In high school, Kallenberger gained all-conference honors beginning in her sophomore year, and was named one of the “2009 Ten Players to Watch” on her county newspaper’s website.

Her biggest college soccer moment of the short season came when the team went to the William & Mary Invitational and beat the University of California, Santa Barbara 3-1.

“It was big beating a West Coast team,” Kallenberger said of the game, adding that she knew most of the team and many players from her home state of California. Located in Irvine, Calif., University High School is less than 200 miles from Santa Barbara.

Off the field, Kallenberger was the freshman, gaining the “responsibilities” that come with the job.
The most common of these were carrying the balls and pinnies for games and practices.

On the field, however, she set a tone with her work ethic, making sure to encourage the entire team.

“She is a fun person to be around,” said Fuller. “She has a bubbly personality and is a friend to everyone. I personally enjoyed having had the privilege to coach such an exceptional young lady.”

Obviously, her efforts were noticed both in high school plays and during her freshman year at Mason.
“I wanted to make an impact and bring something different to the team,” Kallenberger said. “I loved it . . . it was the best experience.”

This encouragement, along with the encouragement from her other teammates, brought everyone together on and off the field, creating the bond of a family that every successful team must share.

“We had amazing team chemistry, even through the difficulties,” Kallenberger said of the team atmosphere and chemistry. “[Coach Diane Drake] puts a lot into the team and tries to have one ‘fun’ practice each week.”

This was exemplified the most by the team’s record.

In the 2008 season, the team only managed to accrue five wins.

The team tied a conference record by doing nine games better than the previous season, going 14-4-2.

“I felt that I could come out to show that a freshman can start and can play well,” Kallenberger said in response to realizing the team’s conference record single-season improvement in wins.

Kallenberger, who was spoken of by Drake as “the complete player,” truly showed that a freshman can start, play and make a big impact on the team.

However, Kallenberger was sure to speak of her entire team: Drake, who turned the season around, Katie Frey, the freshman goaltender who recorded eight shutouts and senior midfielder Omolyn Davis, who scored a hat trick and was awarded multiple awards for her season play.

This freshman has made a difference already, but the team, the coaches and the fans expect bigger things from her in the future.