Catching Up With Carter
Colorado Springs, Colo. ē August 11, 2010
On Aug. 15, the 2010 U.S. Menís and Womenís three-on-three teams will kick off play in the Inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. The four-person USA squads will be challenged by a half-court setting, a 10-second shot clock and even a skills competition. And while the teams just wrapped up training camp together Aug. 6-9 before departing for Singapore on Aug. 10, the journey for the U.S. Womenís team began nearly two months ago.
Andraya Carter (Buford H.S./Flowery Branch, Ga.) arrived at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 8 as one of 36 athletes competing for a roster spot on the U.S. Womenís Youth Olympic Games Team. She survived the cut and remained with her three Youth Olympic Games teammates in Colorado Springs for training through June 15. The U.S. women then departed from Colorado Springs for almost a month-long break with a general idea of what to expect in the three-on-three competition and a conditioning program to follow from U.S. head coach Kathy Richey-Walton (Southwest DeKalb H.S., Ga.).
The conditioning program, however, was just one aspect of preparation for Carter and her teammates. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games are expected to include as many as 4,000 athletes and officials from 205 National Olympic Committees, as well as thousands of volunteers and more than 500,000 spectators. A major focus will be a Culture and Education Program intended to help young athletes embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.
It is fitting then that the U.S. training camp included stops at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a tour of the ESPN studios and a visit with the USA Menís National Team during its training in New York.
Before Carter boarded the plane to Singapore with her teammates, USABasketball.com talked with the 5-9 guard about training camp and all that she has experienced thus far in her USA jersey.
You began practicing on Friday, Aug. 6. You have seen the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and practiced at Springfield College, toured the ESPN studios and got a chance to visit with the Menís National Team in New York. Can you catch me up on training camp?
The ESPN tour was awesome. We met different newscasters, like we met Mike Greenberg from Mike and Mike in the Morning. I watch that show, so that was awesome. I took a picture with him. We took pictures on the different sets, like the SportsCenter set, and sat in the announcersí chairs. We saw all the different technological stuff. There was one lady telling everybody what to do. She was directing, and she was cuing the sound and all the different switchboards. We learned about the history of ESPN. All of the announcers were really nice. They talked to us and made jokes. It was really awesome.
What about your time at the Naismith Hall of Fame?
That was cool. We met Chris Webber, and we talked to him and he talked to us. We got to spend all the time we wanted in all the different sections, and it was huge. There was a college basketball section, and we saw all the things on the different coaches. And then there was a USA Basketball section. We took pictures in there and saw things like Kobe Bryantís Olympic shoes and LeBronís Olympic jersey. It was really big, and they told us that we would be a part of it because we were the first Youth Olympic Games Team ever, and that is something that kind of needs to go in the books. Our tour guide kept us informed on everything. We just walked around and people wanted to take pictures with us, people that we just passed by. They saw USA on our apparel and they wanted to take pictures with us. Itís the best experience ever and we havenít even left the country yet.
Visiting ESPN and the Hall of Fame, did that change your perspective on basketball or your career goals?
I knew basketball could take me places, and itís starting to hit all of us that we are going to go across the world tomorrow. And then getting to meet all these famous people, itís crazy how this one sport really is taking us everywhere. We have gotten to do so much stuff just because we can play basketball. You just have to thank God. We are all so blessed to have this opportunity.
The ESPN thing was cool. I have always wanted to major in psychology and minor in special education. Then when I went to the ESPN studios, I thought about how cool doing something like that would be because I love sports. It kind of opened my eyes. We were all thinking it would be cool to work there.
You practiced twice a day during training and will then travel long hours to play in Singapore. Having competed in trials in 2009 and 2010, were you better prepared for the physical demands this time around? How did you approach your conditioning and how do you feel?
I think we all came in prepared, but we all also had to get back into being used to playing three-on-three. All of us are in pretty good shape. We came into this part of training being able to run, which is totally different from trials when we couldnít even hardly get through a three-on-three game. Yesterday, we played four games in a row. We just kept playing.
I definitely think not making the team last year was good for me. I think it motivated me. I almost thank the committee for not putting me on the team last year because I have gotten so much better as a player. And then this year, when I actually made the team, I just felt like, ĎOK, Iíve got to be the best that I can be to prove that they made the right decision. I didnít make it last year, and they are giving me the opportunity to represent my country this year. Ď So when I went back in July, I ran, I worked hard, just because I want them to know I appreciate this. Iím not taking it lightly. I appreciate the opportunity, and Iím going to do my part to show them that they picked the right person.
The Youth Olympic Games also will be an opportunity for you to learn about Olympic values. Have you heard much about your schedule or other activities in Singapore? Do you know what to expect or what you want to accomplish?
Well of course we want gold. Thatís the main thing. We want to win the gold medal and represent our country well. As far as what Iím expecting, Iím expecting to first get over there and just be completely in awe because itís a different country a long ways from home. Iím expecting to see different cultures living in the Olympic Village with 3,600 other boys and girls from around the world, just interacting with different cultures. I expect to see some things that I may think are weird and some things that I may think are really cool. Iím expecting to have the time of my life. I think it will be the best experience ever and one that I will never, ever forget. We have already gotten really close as a team. And even with the boyís team, we have gotten really close with them, just having fun. On the court Iím expecting us to play well. Off the court, I want to see other sports and tour Singapore. The different classes and stuff seem interesting. I think it will make me a better basketball player and a better person as well.