Future Bearcats Batcho, Kline are top athletes
Creative, offbeat, talented, versatile, competitive; it’s just Izzy being Izzy
By JOHN VARGO
NEWTON FALLS — A quick up and under move, Euro step, crossover or a spin move.
Isabelle Kline perfected those with a sly smile, pointed in the direction of Newton Falls girls basketball coach Mark Baker.
She’s a left-brain thinker whose creative abilities flourish. You know she plays the ukulele? Word is she’s an excellent artist as well.
At 5-foot-10, Kline never defined herself at one position on the basketball floor. She’s not a forward, nor a guard, a hybrid of the two.
She was never just a middle hitter in volleyball — outside hitter, back line, front line. Baker and his wife, Kristina, who coaches the Tigers’ volleyball team, knew she was never designated into one spot.
In track and field, Kline was seen as a thrower, with the discus and shot put as her forte. But she’s run 200-meter dashes in competition and even qualified for state in the high jump.
It’s Izzy being Izzy.
“She’s a very valuable weapon that can come at you from just about any angle you can think of,” Mark Baker said.
Kline is the 2017-18 Tribune Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year, beating out Champion’s Megan Turner, Lakeview’s Annie Pavlansky and Jackson-Milton’s Michaelina Terranova in a vote by the sports staff.
Kline is competing in track and field at the University of Cincinnati next season, after capturing this year’s Division III shot put title with a toss of 46-3 — the best in all divisions.
The state championship throw was her last of six attempts.
“She rises to those moments,” Newton Falls throws coach Jon Culp said. “Very few kids can rise to those occasions. She’s ready for it.”
Decathlete? Maybe. Kline will wait to see what her coaches at Cincy want.
At the beginning of the season, Culp couldn’t have imagined Kline placed fourth in the D-III girls discus. She couldn’t break 99 feet last season, but went over 130 at the state meet in Columbus.
The release point was atrocious as other throwing coaches were baffled. No help in sight. Kline took it upon herself as she studied videos, powered up in the weight room and began to see progress.
There’s a motivation, one that made Kline an insatiable competitor.
Taking a charge or overpowering an opponent in basketball. Her hard spikes or fearless diving for a dig in volleyball. Then there’s getting to state in the high jump, shot put and discus. If she had not retired in the high jump after clearing 5-2 — to compete in the shot put — Kline might have finished in the top eight in all three field events.
“It sounds weird, but I’ll literally do anything to win,” Kline said. “If I have to be extra aggressive in certain positions, I will be. I don’t think of it as me facing any pain or anything. I think of it as me helping my team to win.”
It’s about the love of the game, which started as a third-grader at the former SS. Mary and Joseph School in Newton Falls. The running, scoring and atmosphere of basketball appealed to the younger Kline, who later became the Tigers all-time leading rebounder and scorer.
She played guard until her high school years, which led to the versatility playing the No. 1 through 5 spots.
Her career ended in a 55-54 triple-overtime loss to Elyria Catholic in a Division III regional semifinal.
“It was kind of hard to let go of basketball after my last game,” Kline said. “I realize I wanted to win state and stuff, but I just didn’t want to stop there. That’s how I knew I wanted to start track.”
All three sports went hand in hand as her volleyball skills helped her blocking shots for basketball. Her footwork in the discus and shot put rings played into basketball.
“They all link together,” Kline said. “It all helps out all sports without realizing it. It keeps you in shape, out of trouble. You make really good memories and stuff. You’ll probably regret not doing it. I’ve never heard anybody say they regret doing it.”
Baker said he never regretted knowing Kline, who is intelligent, joyful, charismatic, quick-witted, has an infectious personality, constantly laughing, pokes fun and shows her artistic side through drawing and photographs.
“She’s just fun to be around. She really is,” Baker said.
It’s just Izzy being Izzy.