After one year in house league at the age of nine. “It was my first experience playing the sport and I’ve been in love with it ever since.” One might say basketball is in her DNA, as her mother Mary is also an accomplished player in her own right, previously suiting up for the Carleton University Ravens program herself.
After one year in house league, Carly switched to rep and joined the Caledon Cougar Basketball program where she played for four years before making another step up to the Mississauga Monarchs of the JUEL league, one of Ontario’s highest levels of competitive basketball.
“Playing JUEL was an adjustment at first, as I was one of the younger members of the team,” recalls Carly. “I had to learn to adapt quickly playing against faster and more physical players. At first it was hard for me, but I quickly made that adjustment with help from the older players.”
CDS’s own basketball program benefitted from both Carly and her mother’s early experience in basketball. Mary volunteered to coach Carly and her classmates starting in Grade 4 (U10), and continued until the students made their way into Middle School. From there, Carly began to collect accolades in the Senior School. Not only was she voted MVP on her U16 team in both Grades 9 and 10, she also collected major honours as Intermediate Female Athlete of the Year both years.
“Carly’s commitment to our athletic program has been exemplary, playing basketball, volleyball and rugby over the years,” explains Director of Athletics, John Andersen. “She brings a strong work ethic and great attitude to every game and practice and has blossomed into a great role model for her teammates and younger athletes at CDS alike. Her composure, respect for her teammates and the sport, and talent are great building blocks for success at the next level. It has been a pleasure to have an athlete like Carly at CDS.”
As the point guard, her position is pivotal for advancing the ball up the court, setting up plays and making key passes to the high scoring players around her. She likens herself to a quarterback on the football field. Carly has modeled her game off a few different future NBA Hall of Famers.
“As a player, I’m more of a pass first, look for myself second. I like to make plays as opposed to being a scorer. I’ve modeled my shot after Steph Curry, but my style of play is actually more like Chris Paul. He had an incredible ability to make passes in his prime.”
After harming her ankle ligaments in a fall playing for CDS in 2019, she still can’t believe that will be her last time wearing the Cyclones jersey, “I never realized when I got injured in that game, that it would be my last game. It’s kind of sad.” With lockdown restrictions stopping all competitive basketball in 2020, Carly kept training to recover from her injury and keep herself fit and sharp for a return to her game.
That return will be in September at the University of Toronto studying Engineering Sciences. Carly had kept up conversations with Head Coach and former Olympian Tamara Tatham, but unique situations regarding student eligibility did cast self-doubt on her chances.
“Because of COVID, incoming freshmen will now carry their eligibility an extra year, so it creates more competition for spots on the team. It’s very hard for a coach to commit to someone they haven’t seen play recently. In the end it all worked out, so I’m relieved and happy!”
Carly is excited to achieve her goal and is more focused than ever on what she needs to do next. “Going to any first year situation, I think that it’s more work. You have to show your work ethic and prove that you are there for a reason. It’s going to be more important this year than any other to show that I am supposed to be there. I’ll need to prove that to myself, my coaches and my teammates. As a first year player, I’m not going to get much playing time, so I’m there to learn from the older kids and adapt to the new coaches and teammates.”
But is Carly’s time as a CDS athlete over? Has she shot her final basket in the historic Senior School Gym? She laughs, “I might go take a few shots on the CDS nets this spring – just for nostalgia’s sake.”
We wish Carly all the best as a Varsity Blue!