Upperclassman Girl of the Year: Carly Leong

Summer Daniel and Nathan Seto

Carly Leong (‘18) has been a member of Paly’s Varsity girls basketball team for all four years, yet her

basketball journey began long before her freshman year.

She started playing basketball when she was just seven years old at the YMCA, solely because her parents thought it would be a good skill to have. Little did they know that she would come to love and excel at the sport. It wasn’t until

middle school, however, that she started taking the sport seriously.

“It became my passion in life,” Leong said.

Watching Leong play now it may be hard to believe, but she came into the program with little confidence as a

freshman. By senior year, however, Leong’s confidence reached an all-time high.

“I think I have definitely come far since my freshman year,” Leong said, “but that really came at a cost because I worked pretty hard to earn that confidence; there was definitely sweat and tears.”

Throughout her Paly career Leong has had great personal and team success. With her major contributions as a junior last year, the team managed to snag the CCS Division 1 title.

This year, Leong continued the team’s success and did not fall short of the

expectations set upon her, leading her team to win first place in the De Anza League.

Leong lead her team in both points and rebounds per game, averaging 19.7 and 6.9, respectively. She was also dominant on defense, averaging 1.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.

As the team captain and only senior on the squad, Leong stepped up and

assumed her position as the team’s leader.

“It was definitely hard at first because I have always been the youngest on the team and now suddenly I am the sole

senior,” Leong said. “It came with a lot of responsibility, whether it was keeping the freshman in check or making sure

everyone had the right uniforms.

Eventually I started to embrace the role and I was definitely helped by the juniors, I came to like being the only senior.”

For Leong personally, the greatest

accomplishments of her basketball

career include winning CCS Division 1 twice, scoring over 1,000 points in her high school career, and winning MVP this year, which she accredits to her teammates. She also credits many of her

successes to all those who have helped her throughout her basketball journey.

“There have been a lot of people who made me the player I am today, I mean the list is long-my parents, coaches, my past and present Paly teams, Coco

[Lovely] (‘17), I mean, this list would go on and on,” Leong said.

Although she gives her teammates and others a lot of credit for her success, many of her teammates look up to her due to her excelled talent and work ethic.

“I have always admired her shooting skills because one day I want to be as good as her,” Annie Niethammer (‘19) said.

Not only is she admired as player that contributes to the team with her talent, but Leong is a teammate that many look up to for her undeniable presence and attitude.

“Personally I have always looked up to Carly as a player and a person. Just her presence on the court makes playing so much more fun,” said Niethammer. “I love hanging out with her off the court too. She just has a super sweet and bubbly personality that I love to be around.”

Her team spirit is a major part of the reason for the girl’s basketball team’s success. Their chemistry was indisputable thanks to the senior captain, who was a firm believer in connecting as a team.

“I think one of the best moments was actually off the court on our team bonding trip, when every single one of us got up and raved to “Slim Shady”,” Leong said.

In the future, Leong looks ahead to

Pomona College, where she will be

playing basketball for the Pomona-Pitzer team.

Since freshman year, playing basketball in college was never a question for Leong.

“I didn’t want it to end after high school because I’m really passionate about it,” Leong said. “It had always been a dream of mine. I think I found the perfect fit at P-P (Pomona-Pitzer) for academics and the basketball program.”

As she has to say goodbye to her team and the Paly basketball program, the feeling is mutual between the two.

Her contributions will be missed dearly by the program and Leong will miss being a part of the Paly girls basketball team.

“This is a hard one because [I’ll miss] everything, Leong said, “It’s having a second family, pregame turnups, making fun of each other, and even the hard practices that everyone hated.”