The fresh kids corner: Carly Leong

Josh Yuen, Author

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Participating in a varsity sport under the stress and spotlight of high-pressure games and tournaments can be daunting, especially to those with little experience playing at that level. In this final installment of a three-part series, The Paly Voice features the youngest and least-experienced members of the Palo Alto High School varsity basketball teams: the freshmen.

Recently, The Paly Voice sat down with freshman guard Carly Leong to discuss her unique experience playing varsity basketball, her sources of motivation throughout the season and her common interest with freshman Max Dorward in Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.

Freshman Carly Leong celebrates a victory with fellow freshman Sophie Frick. Leong and Frick are the only freshman on the girls' team this season. Photo by Josh Yuen.

Freshman guard Carly Leong celebrates a 53-40 victory over Mountain View High School with fellow freshman Sophie Frick on Jan. 23. Leong and Frick are the only freshmen on the girls’ team this season. Photo by Josh Yuen.

The Paly Voice: What does it mean to you to play varsity basketball freshman year, with your brother Christian as an assistant coach no less?

Carly Leong: It’s really different [compared to previous years]. There’s obviously a lot of work that goes into it, but it’s definitely really awesome because I get to play with these amazing upperclassmen that overall make me so much better.

TPV: How would you view your current role on the team in terms of how you want to develop?

CL: Right now, I’m playing mostly as a shooter, but I’m really trying to work on my defense so that my teammates have the ball more on offense. I can set them up for good shots this way.

TPV: Your teammate Sophie [Frick] mentioned Coco [Lovely] as one of the players who she looks up to most. Is there any player on the team that you see as a good role model in particular?

CL: I would say Coco as well, but also Maddy [Atwater]. Maddy is such a great leader, and she will remember to pick you up when you are down. She’s just amazing. She works so hard for her size.

TPV: Anybody in particular that you feel has helped you achieve your goals the most?

CL: I would say Coach Dan [Odishoo]. He really supports me, and he gives me so much advice and always helps me during games, which really keeps my spirits up.

TPV: In your opinion, what does this team have to do to continue playing so well?

CL: We have to stay together as a team, executing in particular. Teams are going to be coming at us, and we just have to fight back as we have been doing all season.

TPV: What is your favorite thing about Paly so far?

CL: It’s amazing. I love everyone here. Sports are amazing here, and I love all of it.

TPV: Worst thing about Paly?

CL: Probably the schoolwork. It’s not that much, but sometimes I feel a little mediocre student with all the smart subjects and all.

TPV: Any professional athletes in the NBA or any other sport who you aspire to be like?

CL: Definitely Stephen Curry. He was a great shooter before, but now he’s just amazing and has asserted himself as a leading MVP candidate. I look up to him so much, and he’s just amazing that way.

TPV: Your brother and Voice staff writer Christian Leong practices with the team and is officially listed as an assistant coach. What does that feel like for you, having an older sibling as your coach?

CL: Sometimes it can get a little awkward, but when he plays with us, I like that he is enjoying basketball again. And that’s good.

TPV: Any last words that Paly should know about you as a basketball player or just as a student?

CL: I love my teammates a lot, and they’re all my inspiration and support system.

Leong and the girls’ team finished its regular season with an overall record of 22-2 and an undefeated 12-0 record in De Anza League play. The team will compete as the first seed in the Central Coast Section playoffs beginning this week.