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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Sydney Carter’s homecoming

Courtesy+of+Bailey+Orr%2C+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+Athletics
Bailey Orr

Courtesy of Bailey Orr, Texas A&M Athletics

Former Texas A&M women’s basketball point guard Sydney Carter has done it all.
After winning a National Championship and playing at the highest level in the WNBA and overseas, Carter has returned to her alma mater as the team’s video coordinator in pursuit of a coaching career.
Carter fits into a list of point guards under A&M head coach Gary Blair that have transitioned from player to coach. It wasn’t the path she envisioned while playing at A&M, but said as she aged, she realized the career was a natural fit.
“I feel like I’ve always been a player-coach,” Carter said. “I’ve always been vocal, I’ve always been a talker, I’ve always had leadership qualities. Being in the position this year to actually see the workings of a coach, and the fact that I just find so much joy in it, lets me know that I am walking in my purpose.”
As a member of the 2011 National Championship squad, Carter racked up accolades that propelled her into the WNBA – Big 12 All-Defensive Team, the All-Big 12 Second Team, fifth in A&M all-time career 3-point field goals, 10th in career assists and 10th in career steals, according to 12thman.com.
“To this day, it’s 10 years later and I can’t put it into words – just even in that moment we won [the National Championship] – how I felt,” Carter said.
Carter’s progression as a player took time as she learned the ins and outs of the way A&M operates on the hardwood. A&M assistant coach Kelly Bond-White, who has been coaching at A&M for 18 years, compared the process to refining coal into a diamond, something Carter now helps current players with.
“The best players learn how to read, whether it’s defense or offense,” Bond-White said. “It took Syd a minute to get to that point, but by her junior and senior years was when you really start noticing that we don’t have to coach as much.”
The process continues as a player becomes a coach. Bond-White said a culmination of experiences have molded Carter into a valuable coaching presence and someone who has found her voice among a veteran coaching staff within the last year.
“That learning curve starts all over again, but the game doesn’t change,” Bond-White said. “You know the game, so now you’re passing it down to the next generation. I see her talking, you hear some of those same Blair-isms along with knowledge that she’s taken from other coaches from across the WNBA.”
Not every process was easy for Carter. She was selected in the third round of the 2012 WNBA Draft, but had a short-lived career in the league playing for a different team in each of her four years, according to WNBA.com.
“I went out of the WNBA on my terms,” Carter said. “I decided not to continue to play after my fourth year because my body just needed the rest. Going from WNBA and having a week or two before you go overseas, as you get older it just gets tougher.”
Carter headed to Europe where she found success, playing for three years and winning three Latvian/Estonian Championships and one Eastern European League Championship. Carter said she always wanted to retire on her own terms, but a knee injury in 2018 cut her playing career short.
Shortly after retirement, the video coordinator position opened up.
“For me, it was literally like coming back home. I’ve traveled all across the world, but not a lot of places feel like home,” Carter said. “And College Station, I mean you spend a lot of time here in those four years [as a student], and you develop so many relationships. I didn’t feel like I had ever left.”
In her current role, Carter handles the scouting film highlighting opposing teams, as well as A&M players’ strengths and weaknesses.
Carter’s former A&M teammate and current Chicago Sky guard Sydney Colson said Carter’s value to the maroon and white goes beyond her duties as video coordinator and into the connections she makes with players.
“[Carter is] a player’s coach,” Colson said. “[She] just knows how to motivate a kid. You know what it was like when you played and what you needed to hear, what worked for you. It’s important for coaches to understand that everyone is different, and she gets that.”
In the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Carter stayed on the floor for the entire 40 minutes and led the team to a 58-46 win with a 22-point and three-steal effort. Colson described the game as “a testament” to the kind of person Carter is.
“Coach Blair wanted to go to Tyra [White], and I was just like, ‘No, we’re good,’” Colson recalled. “I knew [Carter] was feeling it; she knew she was feeling it. We’re going to do it our way, and she had a hell of a game. She performed, and she put it all out there.”
Colson said the 2011 squad trained against a men’s practice team – a mental and physical test for the Aggies. Despite the bumps and bruises accumulated during practice and in games, Colson said it made the team closer.
Bond-White said Carter could coach in many programs due to her experience with the game, but her loyalty to A&M and its coaching staff brought her back to College Station.
“Syd has had a chance to go many places to advance within this coaching field, but Sydney’s love for Texas A&M is what has kept her here,” Bond-White said. “She doesn’t feel like she’s selling anything. This is home; she truly believes in the family of it, and this is where she feels like her worth is.”
Handling the ball is now in the rearview for Carter, while handling a clipboard is the road ahead.
“Why not start your career learning from the best?” Carter said. “Why not come back and learn from a hall-of-famer and three other people that could be head coaches anywhere else in the world?
“I think it would be a dream if I could stay here and coach at A&M throughout my career. That would be 100 percent perfection, and I think we all know that. Obviously, things don’t work out that way. I see my path in being an assistant coach whether that is with A&M or somewhere else.”

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