After helping the Goshen College women’s basketball team make it to the NAIA Fab Four, Tyra Carver graduated in May and headed south for a coaching job in North Carolina in the midst of Hurricane Matthew.After the 12-hour drive, Carver arrived in Louisburg to heavy rain and strong winds. The next day, there was no electricity. On top of that, the residents were ordered to stay inside their homes due to the weather emergency.
Several days later, the weather cleared, and Carver was able to start settling into her new home and city.
After graduating with a broadcasting major and kinesiology minor, Carver was ready to take on the next step in her life: coaching. Her goal was to be a women’s basketball assistant coach at the collegiate level, so she started applying to schools.
“Most places don’t want to hire young adults who just recently graduated college,” Carver said. “You will hear a hundred ‘no’s’ before you hear a ‘yes.’”
Carver said she Skyped with the head varsity coach of Louisburg College and felt a connection. After visiting and connecting with the women on the team, she knew this was the place for her. She took the position as head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach for the team.
Carver started her basketball career at the age of 4 in a league called Salvation Army. She played throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. During those years Carver received several recognitions. During her seventh and eighth grade year, her team won the city title. Her junior year of high school she received honorable mention.
In Carver’s earlier years of basketball, she broke her right ankle and a pinky finger. In high school, she tore her right ACL freshman year and left ACL senior year, missing both seasons.
“I wanted to give up and had depression due to my injuries,” Carver said.
Despite wanting to give up, she had a good support system to keep her motivated. The person who has motivated her the most, she said, is her father, Terrence Carver.
“He is always there,” she said. “He gives me advice on and off the court; he is the one who first put the ball in my hands.”
During her time at Goshen College, she received several awards for basketball. In her junior season, she made third team all conference, athlete of the week in both the Crossroads League and Goshen College. She also scored 1,000 points, NAIA all tournament team, offensive player of the year and was captain in her last year at GC.
Before coming to Goshen College in 2012, she met with Coach Stephanie Miller for the recruitment process. She was aware that Coach Miller was new, it was not a winning program, and that it would be a rebuilding year, but still agreed to sign.
Although Carver was a late recruit, Miller was determined to bring Carver to the team.
“I asked Tyra, do you want to put your name on this program and help me turn it around?” Miller said.
Just like she asked, it was accomplished.
“The best part of Tyra was off the court,” said Miller. “She was considered the glue girl for holding the team together”.
“She’s the type of teammate to have your back on and off the court,” said Angela McLean, senior basketball player.
During the first year, in 2012, the team went 3-27 overall. Her second year, there were new faces, but they were still young. Their record was 4-26. Going into her third year, it started to turn around. They finished 18-13.
They were able to play in their first conference tournament even though they lost in the first round against Huntington by five points.
“Tyra became a shooter, slasher, passer, good decision maker, leader, and made me a better coach” said Miller.
Then came Carver’s last year, with the season starting in the fall of 2015. Since they had played in the conference tournament a year earlier, their goal was to go to nationals. They finished with a 27-9 record.
“We weren’t expecting to go as far as we did,” said Carver. “We just wanted to play for as many games as we could”.
The women’s basketball team traveled to Sioux City, Iowa to compete in regionals where they made it to the Fab Four. This is the furthest round the team has gotten to in history, ranking them number four in the nation.
“We weren’t playing for ourselves,” Carver said. “We were playing for everyone back at home. It wasn’t about us anymore, but for bringing the community together.”
Although she is close to her family in Michigan, being away was never a factor that set her back.
As part of her coaching responsibilities, Carver now helps with recruiting basketball players for the team. The women’s varsity team practices from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., then the junior varsity team follows at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., sometimes earlier. On top of practice the teams have weights and drills.
Carver sets up workouts and study tables for her team. When she is not on the court, she is busy with the recruitment and looking at film.
About 50 miles from Louisburg College is Duke University, where Carver dreams to coach one day.