Max Kalny, junior at St. James Academy, is looking to be one of the top lineman in 5A and the Eastern Kansas League this season for the Thunder. He has been playing football since he has been in the fourth grade.
“I started playing as a fourth grader and loved it ever since. We played through CYO where we won every championship for four years. I have been very fortunate to have fantastic coaches my whole life. All my gratitude goes towards my parents who have allowed me to pursue my love for football.”
He may have a love for football but he also has an opportunity to play at the next level. The junior is 6-foot-5 and weighs 285 pounds and can play all positions on the offensive line, currently serving as the starting right guard. 2018 will be his second year as a starter entering his junior season.
Although he may have some weight room work to do, what makes him most valuable is what he does in the classroom. He wants to attend a college program with engineering where he can also play football. He has 4.29 GPA with a 32 ACT score.
“Hands down my favorite subject is Math. My math teachers have made it enjoyable for me over the years. I am a good student and I put in the work in every class. My goal is to attend a highly academic engineering university where I can pursue my career in football.” Kalny said.
While his focus is always on academics he will turn his focus to the football field this fall on a Thunder team that went 8-3 last year under head coach Tom Radke. St. James lost several key starters but do return four on the offense and three on the defense. Kalny was a Sports in Kansas Non-Senior All-State honorable mention selection last year as a sophomore on the offensive line and will look to lead his team in the battle tested Eastern Kansas League in 2018. The Eastern Kansas League has been tabbed the best league in the state by just about everyone that covers high school football in Kansas on a statewide level.
“No team in our league can be underestimated, especially not us. Any team can win on any given day and I full heartedly believe we can go farther than ever before this year.” Kalny said.
We caught up with the rising 2020 offensive line prospect below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by St. James Academy Catholic High School and the St. James Academy Booster Club. For more information on St. James Academy click on our ad in the upper right corner. Best of luck to the Thunder this season!
Chet Kuplen, Managing Partner/Founder of Sports in Kansas, on Kalny
"Sometimes we get caught up in what all these kids can do for you on the football field only. If there were a first team all-state for academics by Sports in Kansas, Max would be on that list. He gets it done on the field and more importantly, the classroom. It's not everyday you run into an offensive lineman that has a 4.2 GPA with a 32 ACT score that is 6'5" and 285 pounds. A college will be really lucky to land him and I really feel like he could blow up soon. I am repetitive, but nobody understands how good the EKL league is until you play in it, coach in it, or cover it. He has the opportunity just about every week to go against Division I talent. We have second team and honorable mention kids in this league getting Division I offers in the past. To even see action in the EKL as a sophomore shows you that you're pretty good and he can play center, guard or tackle, a huge value to colleges. He needs work in the weight room but his frame is there. He's a multiple sport kid as well. He plays basketball and rugby. He knows what his weaknesses are and that's why hes attacking it and working out with Will Shields. Max has a shot to be a very good player this year and the next. He has a 32 on the ACT and told me he wants to take it again to get a better score, that gives you all you need to know about him and his work ethic. I know people who would have to take it twice and add their scores together to get 32, maybe myself included!"
Q&A w/ Kalny
How did you get involved in football?
I started playing as a 4th grader, and I’ve loved it ever since. I played all through middle school at Holy Trinity Catholic School. We played through CYO where we won every championship for four years. I’ve been very fortunate to have had fantastic coaches my whole life. All my gratitude goes towards my parents who have allowed me to pursue my love for football.
What are your goals this season?
I want my team to play to the best of their ability all season. A state championship is always the goal, but I specifically want the team to be known for our toughness and effort. Me in particular, I want to continue to work harder and get better in every aspect of my life. Academically, I strive to keep my GPA above a 4.0. I also plan to take the ACT again a try for a better score. For football, I intend to push myself to become stronger, faster, and smarter. There is always room for improvement. I also aim to be a servant leader on the team. I want to contribute the team as much as I can and help the senior leaders. I will compete to the best of my ability to see if I can earn a spot on the League’s 1st team. Spiritually, I want to keep God a priority in my life during the hectic season.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
St. James is apart of the East Kansas League. Not one team in the EKL can be underestimated, especially not St. James Academy. Any team can win on any given day, and I full heartedly believe we can go farther than ever before this year. Throughout the summer, this team has shown our potential during contact camps and 7 on 7 tournaments. We can do anything we put our minds to, but it will come down to whether or not we continue to keep the main thing the main thing and go above and beyond in each work out and practice.
What makes you such a force as a player?
God has blessed me with so much in my life. He has gifted me with size, strength, and great footwork. These factors have allowed me to be a physical presence on the field. I am also a coachable and smart player. By acting upon my coaches’ advice and playing smart football, I have the advantage. Through hard work and constant practice, I am able to use my physical and mental attributes to allow me to get the job done.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
There is nothing in the world like football on Friday nights. The fans going crazy, drum line playing, and the cheer/dance teams cheering us on. Seeing my community in the stands with constant noise and emotion. It really brings us all together. One team, one school, one community.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
St. James Academy football games are one of a kind. We always strive to play fast, physical, fearless, football. We put more and more effort in each year, and it is amazing to see the hard work pay off on the field. Our comradery and talent bring us together. We are brothers fighting for something bigger than ourselves. That is something worth watching.
Who are other key players on your team?
Every last person contributing to Thunder Football is a key component to our success. From the varsity starters to the incoming freshmen, everyone is important. Football is a team sport. If one part to this machine breaks, the whole thing comes crashing down.
Favorite thing about football?
The brotherhood. I live for the relationships I’ve created with my teammates and coaches. These relationships last forever beyond adversity. They are my brothers. Brothers have each others backs at all times. I will forever remember the times I’ve shared with my team.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that?
I also play basketball and rugby for St. James. I’ve played basketball since I could walk. It has always been an enormous part of my life, especially in high school. I love basketball at St. James; Coach Dohm and the staff are fantastic. I always enjoy spending time with the other players on and off the court. Rugby is an incredible sport as well. It is one of the only full contact sports where I get to run the ball! That alone is enough to keep me playing, but I also love the general name of the game. It’s an exuberating sport. Our head coach, Coach Rob, is an amazing person who has been running our club at St. James. We actually have many Shawnee Mission East players on the team and it is great to play with them as well. Even though basketball and rugby aren’t easy on the knees, every last bit of pain is worth it.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Coach Radke is a great coach. He not only strives for the greatness of you as a player but as a man of Christ. He is passionate, outgoing, and respectable. He pushes us harder than we think we can go. But even with the constant intense grind, Coach always finds a way to have fun and make it enjoyable. He is goofy and jokes around with us and the other coaches. All the coaches are this way. Coach Radke and the staff are more than coaches to me. They are my friends and family. Every last one of them are there for my teammates and I at every last second. Football is known for creating a brotherhood between teammates, but people forget that it also creates a brotherhood between players and coaches.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better and plans to get better this summer?
There really is no “off-season” for us. We are constantly grinding in the weight room and on the football field. During the summer, we participated in many team camps and contact camps; we gained strength, skill, and experience through these events. We also participated in many fun events that allowed the team to bond and grow closer to one another. For me in particular, I recognized that I need to get faster and stronger, so I’ve been working out with Will Shields and his guys at 68 Sports.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I’ve been to a couple camps and have talked to a couple D1 coaches about playing at the collegiate level. I’ve been in communication with a few Division 2 and 3 coaches as well. My goal is to attend a highly academic engineering university where I can pursue my career in football.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
With the very minimal time I have when not playing sports, I love to just spend time with my friends and family. It doesn’t matter what we are doing. Whenever I don’t get the chance to do that, I generally like to relax and watch “The Office” on Netflix.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to have graduated college with a major in architectural engineering. I will use the intelligence and training I’ve obtained to find a profession I enjoy. At this point, I hope to have the opportunity to settle down and start a family.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
Hands down, my favorite subject in school is math. Whether it’s geometry, algebra, calculus - you name it, it’s my favorite class. It is partly due to my math teachers over the years; they’ve always made it enjoyable. I’m a good student. I put in the work in every class; therefore, I do well in every class. I have a 4.29 GPA and 32 ACT.
Who is your role model?
Since I was little, I’ve always looked up to my dad (literally and figuratively). He’s always been my role model in every aspect of my life. He teaches me what it means to be a man. He cares for me and loves me; he’ll never let me forget how proud of me he is. He is a perfect model of fatherhood; my dad is an example of how I want to be when I become a father.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
I’ve been looking forward to this question! Texas Roadhouse is the most phenomenal restaurant I’ve been to. The rolls are better than ever and the steak is fantastic. Every meal I’ve had there (and trust me I’ve had many) has been 100% perfect in every way. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I absolutely love iced tea. It is the most underrated drink.
Anything else to add?
I’ve been working at Monarch Inventory Services for over 3 years. It is a 3-year program called the Leaders of Tomorrow Program. I just graduated the program a few months ago and am now a LOT Trainer/Manager. This program teaches us about leadership while giving us a job where we can apply what we learned. It has taught me so much over the years. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without Monarch!