Kallie Bildner: Lindenwood’s Record-Breaking Senior

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James Tananan Kamnuedkhun

Kallie Bildner (No. 25) holds the ball against a defender in a Nov. 13 contest with Pittsburg State.

Billy Woods, Reporter

Kallie Bildner, an indomitable forward on Lindenwood’s women’s basketball team, is about to finish the successful collegiate basketball career she has dreamed of since her childhood.

During her freshman year at Waynesville High School in Waynesville, Missouri, Bildner attended a women’s basketball game at Lindenwood, where she dreamed of the opportunity to compete at the collegiate levelAfter an illustrious high school career, with over 2,000 career points and over 1,000 career rebounds, Bildner signed with Lindenwood to play on the same court where her own self-doubts loomed inside, to shine and give inspiration to another hopeful Lion in the crowd.  

Ever since a young age, Bildner has been enamored by the game of basketball. Her father was a basketball coach, and starting from the second grade, she dreamed of one day playing in the WNBA.

As a freshman at Lindenwood, Bildner won the 2016-2017 MIAA Freshman of the Year Award, averaging 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, leading the Lions in both categories. Her most statistically impressive performance came against Lincoln University of Missouri, when she scored 33 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. 

Bildner has always been a natural leader on and off the court, not letting the pressure of the responsibilities affect her play or attitude.  

“I just continue to do me,” Bildner said. “I know what I’m capable of doing and I don’t let that affect me.” 

In her sophomore campaign, Bildner set multiple regular season records, which included matching the single-season rebounding record with 352 and breaking the single-season scoring record with 535. Bildner was named to the Second-Team All-MIAA with per-game averages of 17.3 points and 11.4 rebounds, leading the Lions in both categories once again. She finished fourth in the NCAA with 18 double-doubles. Her sophomore season also saw her set new career-highs in total blocks and steals, with 27 and 33 each. 

Bildner said she has embraced becoming a better all-around player, improving her jump shot throughout her time at Lindenwood. The senior forward has never shot below 75% from the free throw line, and she’s attempted 163 three-pointers on 38% shooting.  

“In high school, I shot maybe 10 three-pointers all four years,” Bildner said. “Coming to college, that’s something I look forward to and am comfortable with. It’s what I’ve improved the most on.” 

In her junior season, the first with head coach Katie Falco, Bildner earned First-Team All-MIAA honors, leading the MIAA in scoring with 17.1 points per game, in rebounds per game with 10.1, and shooting percentage with 62%, fourth in the NCAA. Bildner also had a career-best 39 assists for the season. 

“She’s a big piece for what we do,” Falco said. “You get to coach a player like Kallie every once in an opportunity. She draws a lot of attention from opposing players that opens up opportunities for her teammates. She’s really special and who we want the face of the program to be. She’s an incredible human and person with high character, a good student and someone who is going to impact people for years.” 

Falco started in the summer of 2018 with the Lions, coaching the team to a 21-8 overall record, the most wins for Lindenwood in the NCAA. Since her arrival, both Falco and Bildner have expressed to desire to push each other to be better. 

“You don’t realize how much a coach can impact you,” Bildner said. “Just with player development and her knowledge of the game, she’s made me think like a coach. And that’s helped me since I want to be a coach in the future.” 

Coming into her senior season, Falco and Bildner have high expectations for the Lions. 

“As a team, we just want to continue doing what we did last year,” Bildner said about the 21-8 record the prior season. “Being in a new conference, we want to prove ourselves and see where we can get in the GLVC and on the national level.” 

In the Lions’ home-opener of the 2019-2020 season, Bildner scored 35 points and 14 rebounds, leading the Lions to a double-digit comeback win against Pittsburg State. 

“We have a lot of talent,” Falco said. “And with that talent comes opportunities for everyone on the team. On any given night, we have multiple weapons. Kallie is certainly a big part of that, and she draws attention from defenses. She’s the player she is because she’s worked hard and spent time on her game, making it a priority.” 

Bildner has twice been named the GLVC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week during her senior season. As of Jan. 28, 2020, she is averaging 21.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, shooting 61% from the field and 87% from the free throw line, while adding 18 assists, 12 blocks, and 11 steals. She has recorded nine double-doubles and scored at least 20 points eight times thus far in the season, playing at least 40 minutes in four games this season.  

“She has the ability to be a weapon no matter how defenses guard her,” Falco said. “In Ohio, we knew the defense was going to foul, so I drew up a sideline out of bounds play for Kallie, knowing to put her at the free throw line. Not many teams will do that for their center. That says a lot about her and the confidence I have in her with her decision making and leadership.” 

Aware of her opportunities to play professional basketball overseas, Bildner has chosen to focus more time on her physical education career after college. After her junior season, Bildner was named to the Second-Team Academic All-America with a 3.96 GPA.  

“In a few months, basketball will be over for me,” Bildner said. “Just thinking of all the good moments on and off the court will get you through the rest of your lifetime. Remember my love for the game.”