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Former WNBA player Carey has made an immediate impact at Sand Creek
When star forward Taylor Proctor went down last November with a torn ACL and meniscus, some people may have counted Sand Creek's girls’ basketball team out.
That would have been a mistake.
Guided by a passionate first-year coach with a decorated resume and fueled by a close-knit group of players ready to prove everyone wrong, the Scorpions have fought their way to the 4A state quarterfinals. They will take on No. 1 D’Evelyn (20-3) in the state quarterfinals at the Colorado School of Mines on Saturday
Sand Creek (19-6) has proved its doubters wrong, and at the center of that achievement is coach Jamie Carey.
Carey is no stranger to success. She was her class valedictorian and the Gatorade National Player of the Year at Horizon High School in Thornton, then went on to Stanford, where she was named the 1999 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
After being hampered by ankle and concussion issues, Carey transferred to Texas, where she played three years and was part of the team that advanced to the 2003 Final Four. She was drafted by the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury in 2005.
Carey then played for the Connecticut Sun until retiring in 2009. She returned to Colorado, where she worked for Triple Crown Sports and coached the Legacy girls’ squad for two years.
After Carey moved to Colorado Springs to take a job as assistant women’s national team director for USA Basketball, she was approached by former Sand Creek girls’ coach Autumn Sereno – who had just taken the job as the school’s athletic director – to coach the Scorpions. Sereno had heard about Carey from San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi, who had recruited Proctor to play for her beginning this fall.
Sereno hasn’t been disappointed by Carey’s impact.
“It’s worked out really well, and I’m absolutely pleased with how she’s doing with the team and by how quickly she’s adapted. Her resume speaks for itself,” Sereno said. “She automatically earns respect, and she should. Just observing her at practice and at games, it’s obvious she knows what she’s doing and that she’s out there for the kids. It’s all about them and making them better.”
Carey has enjoyed her experience immensely, even taking on her players on the court in practice.
“It’s been a lot of fun, to be very honest,” Carey said. “The kids have worked really hard and have done pretty much everything I’ve asked them to do. It’s very rewarding as a coach to watch them grow through their hard work.
“It’s been fun to see them succeed.”
The players have responded to Carey’s approach, which is rooted in hard work, tough defense and having a positive attitude.
“The kids have really bought into playing defense, and most of the big games we’ve won have been on the defensive end,” said Carey, who actually gets on the court and scrimmages against her players to make them better and demonstrate technique. “The biggest thing I try to emphasize with this group is their effort every day and their attitude toward the court and each other and how they react to adversity.”
Carey’s success has not gone unnoticed by other area coaches.
“I asked (Carey) who got Coach of the Year for the 4A Metro league, and she said she wasn’t sure,” said Doherty coach Pat McKiernan, whose Spartans scrimmaged Carey’s Scorpions last week in the brief downtime before the postseason. “I said, ‘If I had a vote, I’d vote for you for sure.’ I think she’s done a fantastic job, and I really like what she does with those kids.
“The kids obviously believe in her and respect her. You can see it.”
Her players would definitely agree.
“It’s been amazing,” Sand Creek senior Jessi Macedo said of playing for Carey. “She really pushes us hard to get better and brings a lot of intensity to practice. She expects us to do our best all the time, and we don’t like disappointing her. We respect her a lot.”