Off Court with Jamie Carey
To be philosophical - we are all on a constant journey. At one point, you can have feelings of invincibility; at another time, you feel as if everything around you is falling apart. When life throws you a curve, the challenge then is to fight through the setbacks and forge ahead in order reach your goals.
And when you are passionate about your beliefs, you can make that journey more successful. Just ask standout scholar-athlete Jamie Carey, Academic All-American and National Player of the Year candidate.
This won't be a story parading all of Jamie's accomplishments, on and off the court. There are so many records, honors and accolades which have come - and will come - her way. To the multi-talented 5-6 senior guard, they are small rewards and recognition for what she is most proud of: maintaining a passion for the game she loves and pursing excellence in everything she does.
This is a look at Jamie Carey and what makes her everything that she is. Passionate. Energetic. Searching. Driven.
For Carey, the significance of her "journey" began in the seventh grade when she told her mother Debbie that she wanted to get a college degree from Stanford, period. Even at that age, she understood the importance of an education and intuitively made it one of her primary goals. As gifted as she was in the classroom, the same can be said about her talent on the hardwood.
Carey has invested most of her athletic life to the game of basketball and set her sights on playing at an elite Division I school.
"I really wanted to be able to play basketball at this level," Jamie said. "I wanted the opportunity to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it and that all the work I had put into my first 17 years was not a waste. I wanted to prove that I could live up to my dreams and goals and keep pushing forward."
Carey received a scholarship to play basketball at Stanford and before she knew it was well on her path to achieving the two goals she had set.
Imagine the thrill, for 18-year-old Carey, of having her dreams become reality as she walked the Stanford campus to her first class and stepped onto the court at Maples Pavilion in her collegiate debut.
"It was crazy," Carey now recalls of her first game at Maples, her eyes bright and with a smile from ear to ear. "I remember my first game was against the U.S. Olympic team and on the very first play I took a charge against Natalie Williams (a 6-2 forward for the Indiana Fever). Tara (Stanford head coach VanDerveer) told me to never do that again! Maybe that was a little foreshadowing! It was amazing and I think the things that made it amazing were my teammates, coaches and the environment."
Seemingly on her journey of a lifetime, Jamie soon was jolted one short year later when, as a sophomore at Stanford in 2000, she was forced to retire from the game with her much-publicized post-concussive symptoms. The path she was following took a sudden nasty detour.
To help her, Carey turned to a letter her mother had written to her before she left her Colorado hometown and relocated to Stanford. At first, Jamie had not understood the significance of her mother's letter, but later came to realize its truth and significance.
"I remember when I left (for Stanford) my mom giving me a letter that at the time I didn't understand," Carey recalled. "Basically, she congratulated me on all of my high school accomplishments both on and off the court, but she also asked me to leave all those accomplishments with her in Colorado. I then realized the point of her asking me to do this was so I wouldn't be satisfied with what I had done."
This mentality of never being satisfied and taking nothing for granted has set the tone for Jamie's approach to every-day life. She strives to do more and be more, and works hard to make sure she gets the most out of every experience. The decision to leave Stanford was a difficult one for Carey; however, all she has accomplished and experienced at Texas seems to have made everything worthwhile.
"It's almost like I've had two different careers," Carey admits.
Two careers - two paths - both headed toward the same goals. Carey's undergraduate degree is from Texas, not Stanford, and she is now in the midst of her second degree from UT - a graduate degree in sport management studies. And, she will be forever and fondly remembered as one of the most prominent players in Texas women's basketball history.
Now that the student-athlete phase of her life is quickly transitioning into the next phase, Carey was posed the often-dreaded question of college graduates: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Carey laughed and then, with no hesitation, began to list a variety of career paths which included coaching, being an athletics director (at the high school or collegiate level), and running a life-time wellness program for youth and adults. (She later confessed that her biggest dream is to open her own coffee shop - no surprise to her friends who know that Carey's downtime is spent in coffee bars, writing in her journal, surfing the web, writing papers and sipping java, with her ever-present dog Hope besides her).
Here again is the recurring theme of Carey always wanting be more and do more! Yet, Jamie is quick to acknowledge the support of others who are on the journey with her, helping her stay focused on her pursuit of excellence.
"My puppy, Hope, will definitely be with me!" Carey responded with a grin. "And certainly my mom and dad, who are everything to me, will be there. Anything that I do or encounter I know they'll be there. They are my foundation. I will also keep with me the ideas of believing in myself and not giving up. There's a lot to be said about the simple act of believing in something, or someone, and how empowering it can be."
Carey left Colorado with the belief that seeing more of the world and experiencing diversity would help her grow as a person. She never envisioned that she would experience all that she has - and detour from Palo Alto and the Stanford campus to Austin in the process. In talking to Jamie, you cannot help but notice that through it all has emerged an individual with renewed strength, clarity and a heart of gold - which she admits to not always showing. Carey's personal growth also includes the attainment of a couple of intangibles which she assures no career or amount of money will ever be greater than: happiness and love.
"Happiness is the biggest thing in my life that I have learned to value, cherish and will certainly not let anyone strip from me," Carey maintained. "To love and be loved is also one of the most amazing things in the world to me. Knowing that you have your family behind you is something that is irreplaceable and something that no career will ever be greater than."
Lovingly known to her parents as the often frustrating daughter who always goes for the challenges and never does anything "the easy way," (!), Jamie proclaims (assertively, of course) that she would not change any experiences.
"The experiences I have had I would definitely not change," Carey declared. "There were times when I struggled, but I have overcome that and can still see the beauty in a sunset and the strength in people's hearts. I think my whole perspective on life has changed and for me to want to take that back, I don't think would be right."
Over the past six years, Carey has lived a life full of experiences that most could not even imagine. She has been on a roller-coaster of emotions and physical health, and the highs and lows have challenged her to be a stronger person - a much better person - and to search hard within herself to discover who she truly is and what she really wants.
Carey has traveled many paths to get to where she is right now. This snapshot of her experiences is proof that it's not the destination, but the journey that counts.
And the Texas basketball program has benefited greatly while being part of Jamie's on-going journey.