BY ROWAN SCHABERG | TABLA Camper-Intern
Charli Elliott graduated from Pacific University in 2019. She joined us at Team Awesome Basketball Leadership Academy (TABLA) as a Junior Counselor (JC) for the first two years. She graduated from West Seattle High School (WSHS), where she helped her team win the first Metro Championship in school history. She also played soccer and was the team captain of the softball team at WSHS. At Pacific, she led her team in total rebounds and was a core player for the team. Charli graduated as valedictorian with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Chinese. For the past year after she graduated, Charli has been working in Taiwan as a TEFL certified English Teacher, where she teaches English to children ages 4-15. Upon returning to the US, she plans to find work at a university helping international students adjust to America using her Chinese language abilities and experience abroad!
Did you always know that you wanted to play basketball in college? What was the recruiting process like for you and why did you choose Pacific University?
Both of my parents were D1 college athletes and so playing basketball in college kind of seemed like the natural progression. I had the potential to get scholarships for softball, but I loved to play basketball and made the choice to pursue it in college. I wasn’t really recruited out of high school. My high school team had a lot of players that ended up going D1 and so I was more of a supporting player and didn’t stand out. I happened upon Pacific University after my first choice college fell through financially. Pacific had everything I was looking for: a small community, my chosen degree, good financial aid and on top of everything else, the ability to keep playing basketball in college.
What kind of leader would you describe yourself as?
Lead by example. For most of my basketball career and life, I have been the person who leads by setting an example of the standard of hard work and discipline that I would like to see achieved. On or off the court I am the person that will go the extra mile and hold myself and others to a high standard.
How has that changed throughout your basketball career?
My leadership style has definitely undergone some big changes. In high school, I was much more of a vocal leader. We had a small team, I was the coach’s daughter, and I was stubborn. I know I rubbed people the wrong way sometimes by demanding that things be done a certain way. I look back on that time and wish I had appreciated the different approaches to basketball that my teammates brought to the game. When I first entered college, I fell back on the lead by example. I was low on the totem pole as a freshman and didn’t want to come in like I knew everything. So I kicked butt in our team workouts and out-hustled everyone else for a spot on the starting five. I was pretty much content to let others lead until senior year when our team was really struggling. At that point I had to step back into the more vocal role, using what I had learned in high school to create a more cohesive team.
What was your biggest adjustment, basketball or non-basketball related, from high school to college?
In high school I was a three sport athlete, so transitioning to college with a single sport took a toll on my mind and body. I wasn’t ready for the intense burnout that happened at the end of the season. I also was unprepared for the physical toll. During my four years in college I had two knee surgeries and I’m going to need another when I’m back in the states. I would highly recommend prioritizing your own health by taking steps such as cross-training, stabilizing exercises, good nutrition and listening to your body.
What are some ways that you have given back to your community?
I have helped run a lot of basketball camps, as I’m sure most basketball players have. One of my favorites was Pacific’s International Girl’s and Women in Sports Day, where we would have a huge camp with four different sports, bring in a guest speaker and give the young girls of our community a chance to try out new sports and talk with college athletes. During college I also did some work with community gardens, helping to maintain the land as well as sort and package produce. I also volunteered as an English tutor/teacher and taught classes at a local library once a week.
What is one of your favorite TABLA memories?
I loved coaching the 3v3 teams and playing through the tournament that we do during TABLA. It was amazing to watch campers who had been learning new skills all week begin to implement them. I had a player once who earlier in the week I had taught the reverse layup and she used it against my team to score a point. I was so proud! I’m also super competitive, so when our team the Golden State Warriors took home the trophy I was pretty proud.
Another moment that I’ll always remember is when Bea asked the campers what Title IX was and none of them really knew. The education of young female players on the importance of representation and what we still need to work towards as women in sports is part of what makes this camp so unique and so important.
What is something fun you’ve been doing in quarantine?
I’m very fortunate to be living in a country that for the most part has the coronavirus under control, so for me life has been pretty normal. But I’ve been doing some partner workouts with friends in the US via Skype and learning some new songs on the ukulele.