The Parkside grad now a senior with New Orleans Privateers women's
beach volleyball is not taking her final year for granted
Friday, March 5th, 2021
By Rob J. Ross
NEW ORLEANS, LA. - Ally Carr has a renewed appreciation and love for playing in the sand.
For the past decade life revolved around beach volleyball, but following a year away from the sport due to the pandemic, the 21-year old with the New Orleans Privateers' women's team was eager to again feel the fine granular under her feet.
"Returning to the sand after a year of being off was incredible. After being sent home last spring I didn't know if I would be able to compete for my university again," said Carr, following the Privateers' first tournament of 2021, February 26-27th, in Elmwood, a suburb of New Orleans.
"Being able to put my jersey on, step out on the court representing my team and school again was a dream come true. I feel extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to play and hope that everyone in the St Thomas area has the chance to again soon."
In the early months of the pandemic Carr could only practice in her backyard. Later in the summer Carr made trips to the North London Fields to train, when local beaches remained closed to sports.
Meanwhile her American teammates were allowed to train and even play in tournaments due to less restrictions south of the border.
"The toughest aspect about not being able to play or even train in my time off was not having my main outlet. Beach volleyball is more than a sport for me, it's my happy place," said Carr. "The selfish part of me was jealous but the majority of my thoughts were feeling like I was letting my team down. If I had the chance to return, I wanted to be at the top of my game for me and my team."
Now back in the city known for Mardi Gras, Carr is not taking any second on the court for granted.
"Whether I win or lose, have a great game or an off game I'm going to enjoy each second I'm out there. Along with that, my goal is to grow and continuously learn as much as I can this season. The goal is to win always, but over this past year I've realized there is so much more to the game than that."
Carr and partner Maxine Walsh opened the 2021 season going 1-3 over four matches, but the pair strengthened two critical areas in the sport, chemistry and communication.
"Initially we were disappointed in ourselves with the outcome, but after reflecting we remembered this is only the start. The first day of the tournament (February 26th) started off a little frantic for the both of us. The feeling of game-day jitters, excitement and anxiousness all at the same time was overwhelming. Over the course of that game, the following game and the next day, we grew not only individually but as a pairing. Although we won our last game, we were more thrilled overall with how we developed together just in one tournament."
It is the first year together for Carr and Walsh, both juniors athletically.
"Maxine is one of my favourite partners I've ever played with," said Carr. "She is encouraging, passionate, determined and has the same mindset of wanting to constantly learn and grow. I am blessed to have the opportunity to play with her by my side."
Carr has a career record of 32-26 in doubles play. Her total wins ranks fourth all-time at New Orleans. Carr's winning percentage of .552 is third highest all-time, with a minimum of 20 wins. The Privateers' beach program started in 2015.
Due to covid-19 wiping out last year's spring season, athletes received another year of athletic eligibility. However, Carr won't be back at New Orleans next year.
"I could return to play another year (but) I have continued with my studies online and therefore am a senior academically," Carr explained."Although I have a huge passion for beach volleyball and it will always have a big place in my heart, I also have a passion for helping others and studying in the medical field. I am thrilled to continue my studies after I graduate from UNO this May either in medical school or to work towards my masters in genetics."
Her major in pre-med has kept the 2017 graduate of Parkside Collegiate busy away from the court. Classes are online but labs remain in person.
"School is a little overwhelming as I am taking four classes, three labs and an independent research course. Although I am stressed I feel very grateful to have the chance to study courses I love at the school I'm playing at. One of my favourite classes is Animal Behaviour. My class actually gets to visit the Audubon Zoo to study the animals".
Carr returns to action March 12th, the first of 20 matches at scheduled
tournaments. The Southland Conference championship cancelled last year, returns
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