University of New Orleans for beach volleyball and veterinarian studies
By Rob J. Ross
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
ST. THOMAS - Ally Carr will be spending the next four years on the Gulf of Mexico's north shores.
The multi sport star at Parkside Collegiate Institute (PCI) heads to the University of New Orleans this month, for beach volleyball.
"It's pretty cool. It's unreal. It hasn't really hit me how far away it's going to be, but I'm super excited," said Carr, who is enrolling in biology courses related to pre-med.
"I was researching schools in the States that had the best programs for me. Right now I want to be a vet. I reached out to the coaches and I sent videos. They were one of the schools that got back to me and were very interested."
Ally, daughter of Marilyn and Peter Carr, sister to Jeff and Matt, from Shedden, made her decision shortly after a trip to the home of Mardi Gras in April.
"I love it down there. Everyone was happy and there was music playing all of the time," said Carr. "I wanted to look for the best biology programs and New Orleans has two vet clinics near campus, that I could potentially get an internship at and it's all hands-on."
The University of New Orleans Privateers play in the NCAA Division I Southland Conference.
"Ally is a dynamic and explosive athlete who I believe will make an immediate impact on our program," Privateers head coach Millicent Van Norden said. "She is a dynamic attacker and quick defender. I look forward to the many great things to come for our program with Ally as a part of it."
An honour roll student at PCI and the student athletic association president this past year, Carr was named the female senior athlete of the year and received a PCI Award of Excellence. Carr was captain and MVP of the senior Stampeders' indoor volleyball team and helped Parkside's field hockey team win the Thames Valley Region Athletics (TVRA) title and advance to the WOSSAA final.
In each of her four years, Carr was captain and MVP of the volleyball team. She also competed in badminton, basketball, cross country and track and field (qualifying for OFSAA, in long jump, in grade nine, setting a school record). In grade 11, she received a community athletic scholarship, thanks to her academic, athletic and volunteer achievements.
Outside of PCI, Carr won provincial gold medals with the St. Thomas Shock basketball team and played indoor volleyball with Forest City Club (captain and MVP past two years), but prefers sand over the court.
The 5-foot-7 Carr has been a notable presence on the Ontario Volleyball Association beach volleyball tour, representing the Zephyr Beach Club - Beach Volleyball Academy, in Port Stanley.
Carr, with partner Iris Fletcher, won Ontario Volleyball Association back to back provincial beach gold medals, in 2013 and 2014. There were several other tournament wins, giving the team the provincial number one ranking in 2014.
Thanks to her mom, Marilyn, also a volleyball player, a career on the beach started.
"My mom wanted me to try different sports," recalls Ally, a competitive gymnast for six years, including a provincial gold medal in 2011. "Since we are just 10 minutes away from Port Stanley, I gave beach volleyball a try."
Dave Cousins, coach and founder of BVA, noticed Carr had the skills and encouraged her to look into post secondary school options.
"She is a clutch defender and a fearless defender. When the pressure is on, she usually comes up with some miraculous play in clutch moments," Cousins said. "I knew when she was 14, she could get a scholarship."
Cousins recalls during time-outs, "(Carr) would look at you with piercing eyes and absorbed anything you said and went back to the court and just killed it. Her intensity never faded. She is always very focused, very driven."
Carr expressed appreciation for coach Cousins. "He has believed in me ever since he first saw me. He pushed me more than anyone. He believed in me this whole time."
Cousins adds, he'll remember how Ally interacts with her family, playing beach with her mom and younger brother
Carr did take a break from playing, following a break-up with Fletcher.
"I was heart broken and upset, but I kept training because I love the sport," said Carr. "Last summer (2016), I was asked to play at Nationals. I had two weeks to train and we (Hayley Henderson, from Brantford) had never played together. We got fifth, so that was exciting."
Cousins believes the break was beneficial for Carr and her future is bright.
"She needed a little time-out. Commitment stresses of the sport. Indoor wanted her, Beach wanted her," Cousins recalls. "She struggled finding a partner who had the same goals. She took a year off. But she's back and she will do wonderful things over the next four years at the University New Orleans."
Carr looks forward to playing outside all year round.
"I love the warm weather. I can't wait to wake up every morning and for it to be warm. It'll be different but I'll be in a great mood every day."
Update: Over the winter, Carr was the 2018 recipient of the Christie Rose Memorial award, to a female, 'who is a good athlete, strong in academics and has a desire to make the world a better place.'
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