BELMONT – Belmont senior Kailee Kamps will soon be trading her orange and black team colors for the maroon and gold of the University of Minnesota after signing her letter of intent to join the Gophers’ track and field program next fall.
Kamps made it official on National Signing Day this past Wednesday when she put her name on the dotted line during an all-school assembly at Belmont High School.
“I’m overwhelmed right now. It’s nice to know that all the hard work has paid off and I get to continue to do something I really love to do,” said Kamps.
It’s not every day an athlete from a school as small as Belmont High School (enrollment 86)– and from a track team that had only four members a year ago– gets a chance to take their talents to the college-level. And, it’s more rare for that athlete to receive a scholarship offer to a prestigious NCAA Division 1 school.
However, thanks to years of hard work and dedication to her sport, Kamps is set to become the first Belmont athlete to compete at the Division 1 level since Maria Kastner participated on the UW-Milwaukee track and field team in the mid-1990s.
“It’s just an amazing feeling. You don’t really think about something like this happening, especially coming from a school with 80 kids in the high school,” Kamps exclaimed. “Just having the support of everyone here at Belmont for track and for athletics is a great feeling. I have had the support of my friends, my family and the school. We have a great community here.”
Much of the community was in attendance at the school on Wednesday afternoon to provide their support once again as Kamps, the daughter of David and Jackie Kamps of Belmont, chose Minnesota over all her other scholarship offers.
She said her final choice came down to Minnesota, UW-Madison and North Dakota, but in the end she felt the Twin Cities was the place for her.
“(Minnesota) just fit me. It felt like my home away from home. I met with the girls on the team and we connected. You could tell right away there was this spark. The coaching staff and everyone up there in academics was also so helpful and all for track. I know I can get my best education there,” she explained.
Kamps is planning to major in Kinesiology while competing in the throwing events during the indoor and outdoor seasons for a school known for producing some of the best throwers in the country.
According to the school’s website, the throwing events have long been a stronghold of the Minnesota women’s track & field team. The throwers “have maintained and built upon a tradition of success, unsurpassed by any other discipline of the Golden Gopher team.”
The driving force behind the Gophers’ success is veteran throws coach Lynne Anderson, who with 31 seasons at Minnesota is the longest tenured coach in the Golden Gopher Athletic Department.
Anderson, a U.S. Olympic team member in 1976 and 1980, is well respected on the national and international level of track and field, having coached numerous athletes to All-American status, NCAA medals and Big Ten championships.
Minnesota women’s track and field head coach Matt Bingle noted on the school’s website that, “the throwers’ persistent success is a tribute to Lynne’s coaching ability and she’s a very important part of our program.”
Through her first three seasons at Belmont, Kamps has earned four state medals, three sectional titles, five regional titles and five conference titles in the discus and shot put events. She also holds the Lady Braves’ school record in each event with a mark of 147’5” in the discus and 43’1” in the shot.
As a sophomore, Kamps won the WIAA Division 3 state championship in the discus along with a fourth-place showing in the shot put. Last season, she finished second at state in both events to Algoma freshman Kennedy Blahnik, who set a pair of D-3 state records in each discipline along the way.
“It’s a great honor. She puts in a lot of work that most people don’t see. She’s here before school and throughout the summer lifting weights, shooting free throws and practicing her throws. She’s doing it every day all the time. You just don’t see kids doing that nowadays. She’s earned this with her hard work,” said Belmont track and field coach Jason Weittenhiller.
Kamps is a three-sport athlete at BHS. In addition to her outstanding career on the track, Kamps also is a two-time All-Conference performer on the Braves’ volleyball team and she appears headed towards her third first-team All-Conference selection in basketball since she currently leads the conference in scoring for the Lady Braves, who are also tied for the lead in the league standings.
Kamps has already joined her father as a state champion and a school record holder at Belmont, and soon she will join him as a student-athlete at the collegiate level.
David Kamps won a Class C state title in the discus in 1984 while at Belmont, and he still maintains the school record in the discus with his toss of 165’11”.
Dad took his athletic talents to UW-Platteville following his prep career at BHS and finished his time at UWP as the most accomplished discus thrower in Pioneers’ history.
D. Kamps was a four-time all-American in that event, placing fourth in the NCAA Division III national championships in 1985, third in both 1986 and 1987 and fourth again in 1988.
Kamps was UW-Platteville’s first four-time all-American in any sport; and, at one time held the school record in the hammer throw. He placed 13 times in the Wisconsin State University Conference, including all four years in the indoor and outdoor shot put and all four years in the outdoor discus.
Now, dad serves as an assistant coach at Belmont where he, of course, instructs the throwers, which include his highly-decorated daughter.
Kailee’s sisters, Kara, 23, and Kassi, 20, were also outstanding three-sport athletes during their prep careers at Belmont, and each of her sisters also competed athletically in college. Kara was a member of the UW-Whitewater women’s basketball team in 2007-08, while Kassi is currently a sophomore competing in the throwing events for the Winona State women’s track and field team.
If fact, before redshirting next season, Kailee hopes to get in a meet or two against Kassi and she already informed her sister what will happen if they do go head-to-head.
“I already told her she’s going down,” said Kailee with a laugh.
The Kamps family has had a conference, regional and/or sectional champion in track and field every year since 2004, and a member of the family has competed at state every season since 2006. For the last four years, a Kamps has brought home a medal for the state meet with one first-place medal, three seconds and two fourths.
Kamps admitted she is happy to have the recruitment trail behind her so now she can focus ahead to the rest of her senior season.
“I feel really good about my decision. I can go through the rest of my senior year having fun. I know what I’m going to do, so I can finish out my high school career and have that burden lifted off my shoulders,” she added.
First up, Kamps– Belmont’s all-time leading scorer on the basketball court– will try to lead the Lady Braves to their first-ever conference championship title, and then on a long tournament run before turning her full attention to her final prep track and field season.
With her college choice behind her, Kamps can focus on getting back what she missed out on a year ago.
“I’m going to work hard in track. I definitely want to get that state championship back here to Belmont before I leave. That’s one of my top priorities right now,” she said with determination.