Saying goodbye to any Red Hawk athlete is a difficult thing to do. But there is one goodbye coming up that will be extra hard for the athletic community of Montclair State University.
Senior guard Nickie Carter just finished her senior season with the women’s basketball team. Although it is possible that she may not be saying her goodbyes just yet, her imminent departure will be a sad but proud moment for her team.
Carter’s teammate, junior guard Kendall Hodges, knows there will be a hole in the team but also that they will all be supportive of their teammate no matter what she decides.
“A person leaving your team is always like losing a family member from your team,” Hodges said. “But if she does decide to move on, [there will] definitely be a supportive aspect and everyone is just happy to see whatever her choice will be to stay here or to leave.”
Head coach Karin Harvey agrees.
“I think she’s been an amazing asset to our program in a lot of ways on and off the basketball court,” Harvey said. “Obviously, she’s a tremendous player and she does so much on the basketball court for us.”
It is true that Carter was a dominant part of the Red Hawks’ scoring numbers this past season and the one before. The senior guard was named to the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) all-first team, averaging about 19 points per game and 48 of those made shots came from three-pointers.
This past season was huge for Carter, as she achieved 1,000 career points back in November of last year. A moment that was emotionally complex for her.
“It was kind of underwhelming because it was in a bad game, and I just kind of wanted it to be over with,” Carter said. “So I don’t think I appreciated it enough when it happened, but looking back on it, like how many people can say that they scored a thousand points in their college career?”
However, listening to the way Hodges describes her work ethic, it is no surprise that Carter achieved this monumental goal
“[Carter’s] focused and ready to go, and she’s just a phenomenal player to play with and to watch,” Hodges said. “She shows how one can step on the floor and tune out all noise and just play the game. So she’s definitely an admirable player and a leader.”
But it hasn’t been a completely smooth journey for Carter. During her sophomore year, she suffered from an injury while dealing with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Mentally I wasn’t in a good place after my injury and physically I was super out of shape,” Carter said. “That was a [COVID-19] year too. So life was just weird. So that was definitely like the toughest year for me. I considered not wanting to play anymore. So that was just kind of draining. But to [get through that] and seeing the work [that] came out of sticking through that, I definitely think that was the biggest learning experience I’ve had.”
So the big question remains: is Carter coming back for a fifth season? An opportunity offered to her and other athletes after COVID-19 disrupted the 2020-2021 seasons.
Carter still isn’t 100% sure just yet but she is leaning toward sticking around for another season. According to Carter, she still has a lot of unfinished business to attend to before she moves on.
“I definitely still have things that I could accomplish here. In my four years, I haven’t won a [New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC)] championship which is something I always wanted to do. So that would be a reason to come back,” Carter said. “I think I could keep climbing and I also always wanted to win Player of the Year, which I unfortunately didn’t get. So that would be another thing that I would like to win here.”
For now, all we can do is hope and pray that we’ll get to see Carter play another fantastic season with the Red Hawks.
But even if this doesn’t come to be, Harvey is sure that Carter will be ready for whatever her next step may be.
“I feel like we would love to have her come back for her fifth year,” Harvey said. “But, you know, we also feel like she’s grown up in our program and if she decides to leave, we can send her out into the world knowing that we played a small role in making her a better human being.”