Soccer, Basketball, Lacrosse
Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Bus rides with my teammates
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Forgetting my uniform and having to go back home for it
Music on playlist: Country
Future plans: Attend Wofford University and play D-1 Lacrosse
Words to live by: “Don’t let others set limitations on your dreams.”
One goal before turning 30: Finding a career I love and enjoy going to every day.
One thing people don’t know about me: I like to surf.
By GORDON GLANTZ
It started out simple enough. Council Rock South lacrosse coach Madison Hurwitz went to watch a basketball game in support of some of her players.
In the process, another player – then-freshman point guard Carley Irvin – caught her eye.
“Her athleticism – her footwork and her speed and versatility on the basketball court – just all translated right over to the lacrosse field,” recalled Hurwitz. “I noticed her right away.”
The reaction was mostly one of surprise.
“She was, like, ‘Me? You want me to play lacrosse,’” recalled Hurwitz. “We still laugh about it to this day.”
Irvin remembers the life-altering moment much the same way.
“I heard my friends were doing it, and it sounded really fun,” she said. “My brother (Trey) played when he was younger, but I never really had an interest in it. I went and tried out and made varsity. Now, I love it. I could not be more thankful that I learned about the sport, especially with (Hurwitz) encouraging me. It’s been a great opportunity.”
Irvin’s mother, Kelly, was not officially convinced about the experiment and was reluctant to even buy her daughter a stick.
Hurwitz knew better.
“I’ll never forget that,” said the coach. “I said, to her mother, ‘You need to buy her a stick.’ She was, like, ‘I don’t know if she is going to make it. They’re very expensive.’ I just said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Buy her a stick.’ And she did.”
The rest is history, as Irvin – while not giving up her basketball or soccer – evolved to the point where she has nailed down a Division I lacrosse scholarship at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
Irvin says playing in tournaments in her sophomore and junior years opened up recruiting opportunities, and she found herself in the driver’s seat.
“Schools contacted me, and I eliminated like three schools,” she said. “I got contacted by Wofford, which I didn’t know about at the time. My coach texted me, and she was really enthusiastic about it. I looked into it. The offered me a scholarship. I took the time to visit the campus and it just felt like home.”
And, for Hurwitz, it almost felt surreal.
“She is going to college to play lacrosse,” she said. “It’s just an incredible thing. I also coach club lacrosse in addition to being the head coach at South. And I knew, as soon as I watched her on that basketball court that she was capable of playing at the next level. With her getting that new stick and making varsity right off the bat, I talked to her – and her mom and dad – about getting onto a club team.”
Her ascension to scholarship athlete belies the stereotype that lacrosse is a sport that needs to be learned while still in diapers.
“For the vast majority of lacrosse players, that is the case,” said Hurwitz. “But not for Carley Irvin. She is going to be awesome at Wofford. She’s going to be playing Division I lacrosse after picking up a stick only her freshman year.”
In the Middle of the Action
Just like a quarterback in football, shortstop in baseball/softball – or point guard in basketball, which is her position – Irvin is heavily relied upon to help out on both ends of the field.
“She can play offense and defense, and she’s got the endurance and the conditioning to get her up and down the field for an entire game,” said Hurwitz.
Added Irvin, who has 11 goals in her last two games combined: “That’s why I love playing midfield. There is so much diversity in playing that position.”
Her basketball coach, Blair Klumpp, has a similar analysis, further proving that the sports translate.
After being thrown to the proverbial wolves as a freshman, she went from getting by on athleticism to becoming a refined player and, like lacrosse, a two-time captain.
“Carley is someone whose growth overall, physically, maturity, socially, athletically, as a leader, etc. in her four years has been something to be really impressed with,” said Klumpp, who described Irvin as the team’s engine. “I don’t think you ever expect a freshman to come in and be a leader, but her basketball IQ was so high. She kind of forced her way into our rotation. She physically was not ready for the varsity game at that time but she used her high hoops IQ to compensate. “
Klumpp credited her father, Bill, with emphasizing the skills needed to become a mainstay.
“We always joke that she’s been doing some of our ball handling and cone and ladder drills since she could walk,” said Klumpp. “Her dad was a longtime coach and he placed a big emphasis on skills, knowing the game and thinking one step ahead of the opponent. I think all of that is so evident with Carley. I have said for years she is an extension of me on the floor, she knows what we want, what the game plan is, knows the personnel on our team and the other team. You do not see all of that every day at the high school level.”
An Athlete for All Seasons
While Klumpp believes basketball ranks third on Irvine’s totem pole, she doesn’t view it that way.
“Basketball was always my main sport, and I had always played soccer my entire life, too,” she said. “Those two sports had always been a big passion. I don’t think I would have ever given any of them up. It was a great opportunity to play three different sports and not have to choose between one or the other, because I love all of them. It’s great to have the ability to play all three in the three different seasons.”
While soccer and basketball were engrained in her, lacrosse became a passion.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the skills I had from soccer and basketball translating over to the sport of lacrosse,” she said. “I was able to use things from basketball and soccer and translate them over to the lacrosse world. I was able to take all the skills I had since I was a little kid. And, I just love it. I love lacrosse.”
While the pure athleticism translated, using the stick was initially a drawback.
“I could not cradle for my life,” said Irvin. “I could catch the ball and I could throw the ball, but I couldn’t cradle the ball, so I played defense in my freshman year. They would just give me the ball and give me the opportunity to run it up the field and then get back on defense.”
Hurwitz getting her involved in club lacrosse helped to iron out the rough edges.
“That definitely helped,” said Irvin. “I learned the stick skills, and how to cradle. Now, it’s natural. That’s the thing about lacrosse. Once you get past the stick skills – how to catch, throw and cradle – it comes down to how hard you work. My freshman year, that’s what I focused on the most.”
More Than an Athlete
What Irvin’s coaches value most about her is who she is as a person, not what she is as an athlete.
“I have called her mom on numerous occasions, simply to say that she is just the best kid,” said Hurwitz. “She goes above and beyond for her teammates. She is exceptionally caring and respectful. She’s very, very coachable. She’s a good kid, a good daughter, a good friend and a good teammate.”
And a good student, with an approximate 4.0 GPA and involvement in many activities (National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Athletes Helping Athletes, etc.). All this while playing three varsity sports and playing both club soccer and lacrosse.
“She works very, very hard,” said Hurwitz. “Even while in our lacrosse season, she is still going to soccer games and practices after our games and after our practices. She doesn’t stop.
“She is just one of those once-in-a-lifetime athletes that you get to coach. She’s also resilient. She just wears her mask and plays, and you wouldn’t know we are in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Being named captain on multiple teams clearly speaks volumes about her leadership skills.
“She leads by example,” said Hurwitz. “She is first on the field and last off the field. She’s inclusive and very responsible. I had them run a captains’ practice, and she was on the one who was leading the charge.”
Irvine agreed with that assessment, saying that a team leader doesn’t necessarily need to be a superstar.
“I think I am a leader through my actions,” said Irvin. “I think a lot of people look at leaders as being very vocal and someone you can go to, and that’s what I try to be. I just tried to be someone who you can come to and talk to with any issues. You have to be a good person and good teammate, and that what I was trying to do.”
Learning to budget her time between three sports, travel teams (she also played AAU basketball before giving it up while staying with travel lacrosse and soccer), schoolwork and activities has helped her naturally mature.
“I think the big thing, with kids our age, is that we love to procrastinate,” said Irvin, who wanted to thank her family, coaches, teammates, teachers and friends for their support. “I just try to avoid that as much as I can. Whenever I’m assigned something, I just try to get it done right away. I prioritize school first.”
Said Klumpp: “I am most proud of just her overall growth, the big picture outside of basketball. She’s really come into her own and will have such a successful future ahead of her. She’s in top classes. She’s in honor societies and clubs. She has taken some of our younger players under her wing in terms of leadership. In short, she is the epitome of what you want someone in your program to emulate. She’s a tremendous example of what a student athlete and contributor to the school and community should be.”
Irvin is aware of her growth process and has an understanding of it.
“As each season goes by, you just learn naturally and grow as a person and become more mature,” she said. “I think it also has to do with yourself. I always tried as hard as I could to be both a great teammate and a good athlete.”
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