Longhorns spotlight: Carla Cortijo
Dec. 18, 2008
Greilan Oliver, Texas Media Relations
Being a player on a team isn't the same as being a team player. A team player is a player for the team and everything she does benefits the team. The player is focused on being unselfish and worries less about their individual game and more about the progress of the team as a whole. These are the characteristics of a true team player and these are the characteristics Cortijo displays every time she steps onto the court.
"I've grown a lot since I've been at Texas. In high school, I was so immature. As a player, I never wanted to pass the ball at all. I felt like I had to do it all by myself," said Cortijo.
Since then, Cortijo has developed the true concept of putting the team first. It is more evident this year than ever. Last season, Cortijo averaged 10 points per game and established herself as a consistent scorer for the Longhorns. She is still as good of an all-around guard, but this year her focus lies more on the betterment of the team.
"I feel like most of the time I really don't need to score. We have so many strong scorers on the team already. Whenever one of them has a bad game, I recognize the need for me to step up and take her place and become a scorer. But, usually they are doing well and making shots, so I am just a pass player," said Cortijo.
Her recent success stems from the beginning of this season. Because of her desire to create opportunities for others on the court, she made it a personal goal to lead the nation in assists for the 08-09 season and she is well on her way. She currently leads the team in assists with an average of 5.9 assists per game. She is ranked 15th in the nation for assists.
Her success has also been impacted by second-year head coach Gail Goestenkors. Building a "team first" identity with the team has been one of Goestenkors main objectives for the Texas women.
"She's been on us since she landed in Austin. I remember when I first met her, one of the first things she talked about is the concept of the team and everyone working together and being on the same page," said Cortijo.
Carla has also been able to look up to her for support and guidance. With Coach G's experience as a former point guard, Cortijo has been able to gain a lot of advice that she has ultimately been able to supplement to her leadership role on the team.
Although she appreciates her transformation from high school to college, and even the past four years she has spent developing here at The University of Texas, she expresses that it wasn't an easy journey.
"It was a hard process to change. Now I know it's all about team first. You need a good shooter, a good rebounder... On a team, you have to have it all, and without my team I am nothing."
Nevertheless, she has been able to rise above all adversities and take everything she has learned on the court and apply it in other facets of life.
"One of the biggest things I've been able to take from the court is how to handle pressure. Just being on the court, you feel a lot of pressure and sometimes get anxious. It's just like taking finals. You go through a lot of pressure and stress. You feel like you have to make an A just like you feel like you have to win a game," said Cortijo.
Since a very young age, Cortijo has had a strong desire to play basketball in college. However, since she has been in college her desire has evolved and moved up to the professional level. If she doesn't end up playing in the WNBA after graduation, she plans to pursue a career in teaching and coaching.
Overall, Cortijo exemplifies not only a great leader, but a true player of the team. She understands the necessity for sacrifice and focuses on a win for the team more than anything else each time she steps onto the court.