As a senior and returning starter, Carrie Ojeda experiences higher expectations than the rest of the women’s basketball team.
She is ready to tackle them all and end the season as a Big Sky champion and an all-conference post player.
According to coach Wendy Schuller, Ojeda has come a long way since
her freshman year.
“When she got here as a freshman, she’ll be the first to admit that the running portion of what we were asking her to do was really hard,” Schuller said.
Since then, Ojeda has worked on her conditioning and developed the physical strength necessary for her position.
“She plays extremely hard and those physical attributes are really good strengths of hers,” Schuller said.
For Ojeda, her strength is found in her ability to communicate with her teammates.
“I’m really vocal,” she said. “I’m really good at keeping everybody on the same page and being our mouth on the court.”
In terms of weaknesses, both Schuller and Ojeda agree that Ojeda needs to work on her confidence level.
“I’m okay when other people mess up, but when I mess up it gets me out of my game,” Ojeda said.
Schuller agreed. “I wish she believed in herself more than she does. I think she has the ability to be a really good scorer,” Schuller said. “She doesn’t always have that same opinion of herself.”
Going into the current season, Ojeda wants to not only work on her confidence, but also her role as a leader. As a senior and returning starter, Ojeda is in a position of leadership on the team. “Being a post player and being a leader [is incompatible]. It’s usually a point guard that does that,” Ojeda said. “I’m not calling the plays or organizing us like a point guard would, but I’m still a leader.”
A leader cannot take a day off, according to Schuller. She expects Ojeda to practice and play hard 100 percent of the time. “We need her to step up and to play with the maturity level that a senior and a leader plays with,” Schuller said.
Rather than focus on the pressure of her high expectations, Ojeda chooses to go into this season with a positive attitude and a recognition of how far she has come since her freshman year.“I have a better attitude than I ever had. I work a lot harder. Now I know I have to step up and be our leader,” Ojeda said.
According to her teammate, Courtney Nolen, Ojeda has already proven herself to be a great leader. “She’s someone the freshmen look up to,” Nolen said.
Nolen’s fondest memory of playing with Ojeda comes from their freshman year. “After winning our last game [that] year, we knew
we won the Big Sky title. We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s go get the water bucket.’” Ojeda and Nolen then proceeded to pour the bucket over coach Schuller’s head in celebration.
However, Nolen also admits that she and Ojeda have grown since their freshman year.
“We’ve been through a lot since freshman year,” Nolen said. Their play together has included everything from tough and disappointing losses to a championship.
This year, the goal is to win another championship title.
“In the end, we’re trying to win a Big Sky championship,” Schuller said.
While that may be a team goal, Schuller also has goals for Ojeda personally.
“I think she has the ability to be a double-double player,” Schuller said. Schuller expects Ojeda’s stats to consistently show double-digit points as well as rebounds.
Ojeda herself aspires to win an allconference team, a goal she fell just short of last year. With tough post players across the Big Sky, this goal will be a competitive one, but Ojeda is keeping a positive attitude.
Ojeda will compete against Kylie Kuhn from Sacramento State and Amanda Hughes from Weber State. Kuhn led the Big Sky Conference in rebounds last year, averaging 11.7 per game. Both Hughes and Kuhn averaged 1.3 blocked shots per game, but Ojeda led the conference in blocked shots, with an average of 1.8.
“I’ve been playing against them for three years, so I’m comfortable. A lot of them have made an all-conference team and I haven’t, so that gives me a lot of motivation,” Ojeda said. “Playing against them makes me play better.”
Schuller agrees that some of the goals Ojeda hopes to achieve may put her in a challenging position.
“There are things that are being asked of her that might make her uncomfortable. I think you sacrifice being uncomfortable to win,” Schuller said.
Ojeda believes winning will require two aspects: teamwork and
“We don’t have one player that needs to go for 30 [points] a night. We need five players to go for 10 to 12 a
night,” Ojeda said.
Nolen is confident Ojeda will be able to lead the team to the Big Sky title. “She’s a good leader and a strong post player,” Nolen said.