Carla Cortijo: Creativity on and off the court
When you think of UT point guard Carla Cortijo on and off the court, the first word that comes to mind is “creativity.” Especially when you discover that she owns -- and uses often -- a very treasured possession: a sewing machine to make her own stylish clothes.
First, to the court. When the 5-7 guard hits the hardwood, her presence is immediately felt. The smooth guard with the flowing hair is “the is the heartbeat of our team,” according to head coach Gail Goestenkors.
As Carla goes, so go the Longhorns. Coming to UT as a former high school Parade All-America standout at Bellaire HS outside of Houston, Cortijo was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team a year ago. She is a candidate for the 2007-08 Lieberman Award, given to the nation’s top Division I point guard. Cortijo leads Texas in assists with 101, dishing out 4.9 assists per game, and chips in with 9.5 points per game. Cortijo also leads the team in steals (43).
Cortijo is a key contributor and driving force in the eyes of her teammates as well. “Carla is a great point guard. She knows when to push, when to stop, how to transition, how to get us under control,” noted team co-captain and fellow starter Earnesia Williams. “She is really good at hitting people on the fly in our transition game. Carla just bring a lot of energy to the court and to our team.”
That is high praise for Cortijo, who has returned to full form after enduring a left shoulder injury in early January. Recently, Carla has shaken off the injury, scoring in double figures three times in the last five games, including 16 points Wednesday night against No. 6 Baylor. She also had a season-high tying nine assists against Texas Tech on Jan. 20.
“I’m feeling great right now,” commented Cortijo. “This season, I am playing without my knee brace as well, and my knee is fine. My shoulder is getting there, and I’m just ready to play hard every day and lead this team for Coach G.”
“Carla is a tremendous ball handler and is so creative, which shows in so many ways,” stated Goestenkors. “We see it with her passing and with the way she gets around defenders. She has a flare for the game.”
Back to the sewing machine and to the fact that Carla’s “creativity” extends off the court. She spends a lot of her spare time sketching orignal clothing designs and working at the machine, cutting fabric and making her own shirts, vests and blazers -- all which are the envy of teammates, friends, and Coach G!
“I’ve seen her designs and she has an excellent sense of style,” Goestenkors said, smiling. “I told her I’d love for her to design and make me something soon!”
Currently majoring in education with an eye towards a minor in textile design, Cortijo excels in the classroom. An Academic All-Big 12 First Team scholar-athlete, she hopes to take her talents in clothing and design to the next level.
“Honestly, I am not looking to go into professional basketball, but to do my own thing in the fashion world after graduation,” noted Cortijo.
On the court, Cortijo prides herself on the energy and focus she brings to the game and her knack for being a crowd pleaser.
“There’s a part of me that likes to be creative with a fancy pass or hard drive to the basket, because I like the fans to have fun too and I want to make the game more exciting for everyone,” Cortijo said. “But I am the point guard, and my primary focus is to be the leader and take care of my team out there.”“Carla is terrific leader,” Goestenkors concluded. “I trust her to make great decisions in a clutch, whether it is to hit a shot or hit an open teammate. I’m really proud of who she is and the player she is. I’m also excited because I know there is so much more in her that is going to come out over the rest of the season and in her Texas career.”