Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

TMU women's basketball coach Carly Clarke stands with her hands on her hips in a red t-shirt
Andrew Yang/The Eyeopener
All Sports

Clarke balances best of both worlds in TMU and Team Canada

By Jack MacCool & Gavin Axelrod

The blue doors at Kerr Hall’s Upper Gym spent most of last week closed, with the sounds of squeaking shoes, basketballs pounding hardwood and encouraging cheers of teammates slipping through. Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) students weren’t behind the doors, rather some of the world’s best basketball players.

Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team held a training camp at the university from Nov. 21 to 24 at the Kerr Hall Upper Gym and the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Among the participants was TMU women’s basketball coach Carly Clarke, who is an assistant coach for the national team. 

But Clarke wasn’t just on guard for Canada last week, she also had responsibilities with the Bold to tend to. So, when last Wednesday’s national team session ended, she bundled up to brave the cold and was out the door from one practice to another.   

“It allows me to be at training camp and still be with our team here at TMU,” said Clarke. “I’m really lucky to get the best of both worlds.” 

Clarke has been working in the Canada Basketball system since 2008 and has coached many players who now play professionally all over the world. One of which is Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Bridget Carleton.

Carleton said she’s known TMU’s bench boss since her time with the 2013 16U national team that Clarke was the head coach of. 

“She obviously has a full-time job at TMU but she also dedicates so much time to Canada Basketball and she has for over a decade now to both programs,” said Carleton. “Her dedication and her commitment to Canada Basketball…is incredible and it’s one of one, so we’re really thankful for her.” 

Canada is coming off a fourth-place finish at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup this year. The result was the program’s highest finish since 1986 and now they’re ranked fifth in the world.

“Her dedication and her commitment to Canada Basketball…is incredible and it’s one of one, so we’re really thankful for her.”

This fall’s World Cup also marked the on-court return of Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse, who missed the 2022 WNBA season due to an ACL injury. Nurse continued to work her way back to full strength last week at TMU, much to the joy of her teammates.

“Even though she wasn’t here on court with us, she was always around and connected with us,” said Carleton. “But the experience she brings to the table every time she’s on the court and obviously her leadership style and her competitiveness is invaluable.” 

Team Canada doesn’t have any games scheduled in the near future, so last week’s training camp was a chance to keep those representing the country connected and provide a chance for them to get better every day. 

The presence of the national team on campus also excited TMU’s women’s basketball team. Clarke said Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn—who is Canada’s lead-assistant coach—got to meet the reigning U Sports national champs. 

“We’ll get a bus ride tomorrow night for a few hours and I’ll get to chill out so it’ll be all good.”  

The team’s camp wasn’t just an opportunity to learn for the players but also for Clarke. She explained that her time with Team Canada allows her to bring things back to the Bold. Clarke referenced a defensive scheme that she worked on with Canada in the morning, that she then brought to the Bold’s practice that afternoon.   

“What Carly learns here, we also reap the benefits of that and she gets to bring all her knowledge and what she learns in this space back to us,” said Bold forward Kaillie Hall. 

TMU spent this past weekend in Sudbury and North Bay, Ont., as part of a two-game road trip. They’ll play two more games on the road this semester before breaking for the holidays. 

The long trips to visiting schools offer some rare downtime for TMU’s resident basketball mastermind.

“We’re well-prepared week-to-week and in what we’re doing for our game plans and prep,” said Clarke. “We’ll get a bus ride tomorrow night for a few hours and I’ll get to chill out so it’ll be all good,” said Clarke.  

Leave a Reply