Bridget Carleton inches closer to ultimate dream


Jack Macdonald

Three points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in five games — the stat line Bridget Carleton ended with at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup.

Although not eye-popping stats, the junior had finally accomplished the first step of a goal that, in her eyes, ends at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo donning a jersey that says Canada across her chest.

“My parents were here this weekend and it just kind of sunk in,” Carleton said. “Like, I was really on Team Canada this summer. That was the first time on the senior team.” 

Playing for Iowa State has only helped her chances of reaching that goal, but it was long before she arrived in Ames that the process started. 

Step one of the goal was started and accomplished when Carleton suited up for Team Canada at the U16 level. Then another check mark came at the U17 level. And another at the U18 level and the U19 level. Then finally, after a check mark ended up next to Iowa State, this past summer Carleton put a mark next to the senior team. 

“To actually be on the senior team, which has been a goal of mine ever since I started playing basketball, I didn’t know it was doable, but then it actually happened and it was just an honor, a huge honor,” Carleton said. “Winning the gold medal was just the cherry on top.”

A check mark next to the senior team is an important one if she wants to earn that elusive roster spot on the Olympic team. 

However, before any chatter is brought up again about her chances at making the roster for the 2020 Olympic Games, Carleton must focus on her final two years at Iowa State.

Of the three juniors on the Cyclones’ roster, Carleton is the most established and most ready to make an immediate impact for a team that will primarily rely on a mix of young and veteran talent due to the departure of Seanna Johnson and Jadda Buckley. 

The departure of Johnson and Buckley leave the Cyclones in a spot of question. Does coach Bill Fennelly play for the future and build the team or play for the seniors and run the table? 

Johnson and Buckley, along with Carleton, proved to be vital last season as all three led the Cyclones in at least one category. However, without the two, Carleton is left to fill a void that has been a troublesome topic for Fennelly thus far. 

“Bridget [Carleton] and [Meredith Burkhall],” Fennelly said of the starting lineup. “And then, it’s like the baseball playoffs. To be determined, game time decision or whatever.”

Carleton, who averaged 15 points and 5.7 rebounds last season, spent her summer in the Canadian basketball circuit. Something that was already noted as a dream of hers. 

“[Carleton] is the leader of our team,” Fennelly said. “Bridget is someone who, you are talking about an unanimous preseason all conference last year and postseason all conference player, first team.”

For Fennelly, it may be her summer spent traveling the world that will ultimately prove to be the key piece in providing success for Iowa State and being the leader he wants her to be. While traveling to Europe and South America, Carleton was joined by women that have far more experience than her, allowing for her to feed off of them and learn key bits to bring back to Ames. 

“Learning from playing with professional players all summer, there was only three of us who were still in college and all the rest of them are playing overseas or some of them in the WNBA, so that was awesome,” Carleton said. 

Carleton also pointed out it was important to see the work ethic and time international players put into the sport and it really put into perspective of what her future may hold as an elite international athlete. 

As the youngest player on the team by a full year, Carleton was on the squad as a 20-year-old, often times playing against players well older than her. Naturally, that would suggest intimidation, but for Carleton it was welcomed. 

“I wouldn’t use intimidating,” Carleton said. “I got the chance last year to train with them a little bit before they went to the Olympics, so that was helpful. I was extremely nervous before that, but they’re all awesome players and people.”

With this summer and the training with the senior team prior to the 2016 Olympics, Fennelly spoke highly of her, going as far as to say she’s the hardest working player on the team. 

Spending a summer winning a gold medal in Buenos Aires, Argentina or not, Carleton is expected to lead Iowa State with success. 

“I wouldn’t trade Bridget Carleton for any player in the country and I mean that,” Fennelly said.