Windsor·Q&A

Q&A: Bridget Carleton on basketball, the WNBA draft and what Chatham means to her

Bridget Carleton is heading to the Women's National Basketball League, drafted 21st overall to the Connecticut Suns.

Bridget Carleton is heading to the Women's National Basketball League

Iowa State guard Bridget Carleton, centre, from Chatham, Ont., was chosen 21st overall by the Connecticut Sun in Wednesday's WNBA draft. (Matthew Putney/Associated Press)

After four seasons at Iowa State, Chatham's hometown basketball hero's collegiate career is over.

Bridget Carleton is heading to the Women's National Basketball League, drafted 21st overall to the Connecticut Suns.

She spoke with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette about the past week, the draft and basketball in general. 

What has the last week been like for you?

It's been crazy. It's been a lot of fun. It's been overwhelming a little bit but I've just tried to enjoy it all. It's been super fun.

Tell me about Wednesday night, about the draft.

Our team got together with the coaches and watched the draft. We Facetimed my parents back at home watching it so to have everyone there was really awesome. When we heard my name, everyone went crazy.

Any thoughts on being chosen 21st?

I'm not too worried about the number or what round it was. I'm excited to go to Connecticut. I just want to play for a team that wants me there, so I'm looking forward to meeting everyone there and getting to Connecticut.

What kind of challenges have you had to overcome?

It's a lot. Obviously being away from home is difficult at times. As the years went on, I knew my family would also be there for me. That was the biggest challenge, being in a different county, being ten, eleven hours away from home. 

And then just meeting new people. You're kind of thrown into the fire with new coaches, a new team. It worked out really well here. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else but Iowa State. I'm really thankful for this place.

At what point did playing in the WNBA become a goal for you?

It's always been a dream of mine. I didn't know it was very realistic until maybe the end of last year. I kind of worked my way into the mix. I've gotten better over the years and that's a credit to this program at Iowa State and my coaches and team here. I wouldn't be the player I am without them. This year it became more and more of a goal as the season went on.

He just means I'm a versatile player. I can do a little bit of everything, whatever my team needs in that moment. There's not one thing that I'm super good at, but I can do a variety of things which is an advantage at times.

Do you know how big of a deal this is back in Chatham?

It's kind of just settling in for me. It's kind of crazy. I'm sure my parents' phones are getting blown up too. To come from Chatham and be a role model for little girls in the Chatham area. You can do whatever you want if you love it and work as hard as you can.

You've been drafted — that doesn't mean you'll make the team. Where is your head on that these days?

My goal is to make the team and regardless if I make the team this summer or not, I'll play professionally overseas. I'm going to play basketball for as long as I can. My goal is to make the Olympics one day, to play for Team Canada. I'm going to play as long as I can, as long as I love it. I'll get into the real world one day. 

Is a 21st draft pick expected to get a spot on a roster?

It's difficult for anyone to make a roster. There's only 12 teams in the league, 12 roster spots for each team, so 144 players. There's already full rosters. It's hard for anyone to make the team. It's going to be a challenge. I'm going to work as hard as I can to put myself in the best position and make the team. 

It kind of just depends. Anyone has a chance, if you're given the opportunity. Anyone can do anything. We'll see. I'm excited to get to camp and start working with the coaches and the team. I'm ready to play basketball again. 

What do you do when you're away from the gym?

I'm still in school everyday of the week. When I'm not in school or playing basketball, I like going outside, going for walks, reading books, watching Netflix every once in a while, going shopping. Normal things 21 year olds do. 

What happens for the next few months?

I'm studying kinesiology right now in school and in the first week of May classes will be done and then finals week. I'll have to get done that a little bit ahead of time because of the WNBA requirements. With that degree, when I'm done playing I'll either try to get into coaching at the collegiate level or I'll go back to Canada and go to teacher's college and become a teacher like my parents are.

What is your next big thing?

The Olympic qualifiers is in November and February this year. I'm hoping to make that team again and hopefully qualify for the Olympics, which are in 2020. 

You have little time to prepare for the WNBA training camps, is that right?

I've been preparing since the season ended. I got my rest and then I started training again. No matter what team I was going to go, I wanted to be in the best shape and be as prepared as possible. 

Who in Chatham is most responsible for what you've accomplished at this point?

There's so many. My family is a huge part of that. They're so supportive of me. There's so many people. They mean the world to me, they know how important they are to me and getting me to where I am. I've been lucky with a good support system back home. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

With files from Windsor Morning

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