For the women’s basketball team, this weekend’s pair of Ivy League games will be more than just tough conference tests against rivals Dartmouth and Harvard.
Saturday night’s contest against Harvard will double as Senior Night for three Elis: captain Ashley Carter ’10, Melissa Colborne ’10 and Haywood Wright ’10.
“They’re a pretty special group,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “They’ve been a huge part of the growth of the program. We will miss them.”
Carter, a guard from Freeport, N.Y., has been a steady contributor for the Elis since she made the team as a walk-on freshman year.
Carter began playing basketball in her backyard against her older sister when she was eight years old and grew to become a three-time MVP and state champion at Kellenberg Memorial High School. Her growth has not stopped during her four years at Yale.
“I’ve changed a lot as a player,” Carter said. “I have developed a much better understanding of the game. I’ve also developed a better understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses.”
Her maturation has shown this season as Carter has figured more prominently on the court for the Bulldogs. After starting just six games and averaging 16.1 minutes per game last season, Carter has started 16 of 21 contest and is averaging 20.3 minutes per game.
“Ashley is tremendously competitive,” forward Victoria Perez ’11 said. “Her presence is very strong, especially during crunch time.”
Carter has seen the team change a lot the past four years, particularly the dynamics of the team. The cohesiveness and chemistry of the Elis have improved dramatically since she was a freshman, Carter said.
Of all the memories, Carter most delights in her team’s Europe trip after freshman year, when the Bulldogs toured Germany and Austria in one of Carter’s favorite times at Yale.
“The team has meant a lot to me these past four years.,” she said. “It was the group I first felt comfortable around here at Yale and around which a lot of my social life revolves. The team has given me very unique experience of Yale that I am very grateful to have.”
Colborne will graduate this May as one of the program’s most accomplished players. A native of Calgary, Canada, Colborne also started playing basketball when she was eight years old, practicing with her dad and sister as soon as she could pick up a basketball.
“Basketball was always part of my life, and it was somewhere I could channel my competitiveness,” Colborne said.
As a senior at Springbank High School, Colborne averaged 33.8 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists per game before becoming the first Canadian to play for the Yale women’s basketball team.
Colborne was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year her freshman year, an All-Ivy first-team selection her sophomore year and an All-Ivy second-team selection her junior year. She was second in the Ivy League in scoring the past two years, and is currently fifth in Yale history with 1,373 points.
According to Gobrecht, Colborne has managed her game exceptionally well this year, as she is scoring less to adjust to the better team around her while improving other parts of her game.
“Melissa is playing the best basketball of her career right now,” Gobrecht said.
Colborne also greatly relishes her memories of the European trip as well as visiting teammates’ homes during road tournaments. After she graduates, Colborne hopes to continue playing basketball overseas for a year or two before applying to law school.
“Basketball has been a big part of my life at Yale and it goes beyond the hours spent in the gym and traveling over the weekends and breaks,” she said. “It has given me a chance to make friendships that will last long after I graduate this spring.”
Wright, who hails from Irvine, Calif., has overcome injury this season. . Initially disliking the game as child, Wright grew to love it, especially after she grew tall.
After coming to Yale, Wright made major contributions to the team her first two seasons, particularly on the defensive end, leading the Ivy League in blocks with 45 her sophomore year.
However, after starting 20 games her last season, Wright’s season was cut short due to an ACL tear. Despite knowing she would miss much of her senior season due to the recovery time needed, Wright determinedly worked to get back on the court.
“It was such a tragedy when she got hurt last year,” Perez said. “It’s been a tremendous example, in particular for injured freshman Aarica West [’13], to see Haywood work so hard to recover.”
Wright fought her way back on to the court to become a factor this season, and is currently third on Yale’s all-time blocks list with 107 rejections.
Wright’s best memories from Yale basketball include sweeping Dartmouth and Harvard freshman year and beating NC State last year, Yale’s first ever win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team.
“I think our senior class will be remembered for our dedication to this team,” she said. “We have all put in four years of hard work, and while we haven’t won an Ivy League championship, which was our ultimate goal, I hope that we will still be remembered as giving it our all.”
As another generation of Yalies on the women’s basketball team rise to take the place of Yale’s departing seniors, Carter, Colborne and Wright believe the team is in good hands in the near future.
“It would be nice to be remembered as part of a team that started Yale’s climb to the top of the Ivy League, because I really believe my teammates are headed in that direction,” Colborne said.
The Bulldogs welcome Dartmouth (10–13, 5–4) to the John J. Lee Amphitheater Friday at 7 p.m. before Harvard comes to town Saturday for the trio’s last home contest.