If there were a story about a young player climbing through impossible feats and being rewarded for his hard work, that would be the story of senior guard John Kiser.
As a kid out of Noblesville, Ind., Kiser went from being a walk on, to getting a scholarship, to becoming the face of the Valpo Basketball program. Day in and day out, Kiser takes nothing for granted when he pursues to get better, and makes sure to make every second count of it.
“Taking the opportunities that I have. I only have got a few more opportunities left, so I want to make the most of it,” Kiser said.
Among being thankful for getting the chance to further his career as a basketball player, Kiser is thankful to the crowds of fans that come out and support the team, regardless of them winning or losing.
“They are just great. Little bit of an older crowd usually, but they still bring the fire,” Kiser said.
In his freshman year, he saw the court through 25 games, but got his first start in the Horizon League Championship against Milwaukee in early March. His playing time, which he averaged 9.8 minutes per game, increased to 15.4 as the season went on.
With most walk ons, they find little motivation to want to get better and. However, it was not an excuse for Kiser to keep on enjoying the game he loved. Although it would seem a self decision would need to be made, his mind was focused up on enjoying the journey.
“I don’t think I ever had a decision that I wanted to be more. It was just kind of a ‘I am just going to work,’ ‘Just work how I work,’ and it just ended up working out,” Kiser said.
He never recalls a moment thinking he only wanted to be a starter, Kiser genuinely enjoyed basketball and wanted to play.
He also received a scholarship from Valpo as a sophomore the following season. Since then, Kiser has been impacting some of the freshman players that have been in his same position.
“I pretty much let them know that you are here to work everyday. You won’t get much glory or have your name said all the time, but you’re there to make everybody better. They definitely have taken that role really nicely,” Kiser said.
While it is normal to have a coach impact his players, the message has also presented itself to Head Coach Matt Lottich. Kiser is Lottich’s first player to go through the program for a full four years under his tenure, and he has seen maximum effort from his senior every time he is on the court.
“When you look at John, he embodies everything you want in a young man. He is someone that lays it all out on the line every single time he is out on the floor,” Lottich said. “I feel like every time he plays, he is diving on a lose ball, getting injured, getting backed up. You want to maximize everything you have, everything you have been given, and I think John has done a good job of that.
Off the court, Kiser will be graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. For Kiser who has had to balance between the commitment on the court and the commitment in the classroom, has been thankful to have professors who have helped him succeed along the way.
“Without them working with me, turning in homework a little bit late, or figuring out a different time to take a test, it would not be possible. It also takes a lot of discipline on getting things done on time and time management, but other than that, without the professors it would not be as easy as it has been with everything,” Kiser said.