Camas High School Senior Jalena Carlisle has dreamed of playing college basketball since her freshman year. On October 15th, her dream became a reality when she announced her commitment to Seattle Pacific University on social media. She has really enjoyed playing at CHS for the past three years, and is excited to continue her athletic and academic careers up north next year.
Carlisle has experienced a great deal of success while being a part of the CHS girl’s basketball program, including several trips to the Tacoma Dome.
She said, “Some of my most enjoyable memories come from playing in the playoffs at the Tacoma Dome.”
On the other hand, Carlisle has also experienced a fair amount of adversity throughout her high school career.
“One of the lowest points I had in my high school career was in my junior season. I was unfortunately discovered to have anemia. The doctors told me I could not play until my iron levels were higher. I hated not being able to play and missing most of the season, but I needed to take care of my body.”
Despite this setback, Carlisle was able to persevere and continue excelling on the court.
Carlisle attributes the success of the girl’s program to the culture of hard work and accountability.
She said, “The culture of Camas women’s basketball team is built on family. Every single player holds each other accountable as we work harder every day. Although it is challenging to get through conditioning and trying to reach some of our goals, it also makes each player mentally tougher.”
In addition to the culture, Carlisle attributes the program’s success to the coaching staff.
“This locker room is filled with so much love and it starts with the coaches. Our coaching staff has built a foundation to keep this team going for years to come,” she said.
Carlisle added, “I have never been more positively impacted by a coaching staff before! I have so much respect for them in my heart. Coach Scott Thompson has been a remarkable head coach because he believes in each and every player. He has been able to teach me what it takes to play at the next level. All of the coaches reflect what is expected of us, as they all work together as a team to make us a top team in the state of Washington.”
CHS girls varsity basketball Head Coach Scott Thompson said, “Jalena sets the tone for our locker room with her energy and passion.”
Several of Carlisle’s teammates weighed in on about her impact on the program.
CHS Junior and teammate Ashley Bauer added, “She’s the core of the group, always hyping people up before games and during practices. She always has so much energy and makes everyone happier, laugh, and feel included.”
Another teammate, CHS Senior Katelynn Forner said, “Jalena is a hard-working and determined leader. She will do anything for the team and will always give one-hundred percent effort. She is a positive energy and is a huge part of this team. She impacts everyone’s life on and off the court.”
Carlisle started playing club basketball during her sophomore year because she realized that it would help her get more attention from college coaches.
She said, “I began getting looked at that season and started talking to a couple of schools.”
The schools on that list consisted of SPU, Air Force College, Central Washington University, Willamette University, and Eastern Arizona College.
“From my first call with Seattle, they held a high standard of what I expected from other schools, so I kept close communication with them and picked up an offer in October.”
SPU felt like the best fit for Carlise for several reasons.
“I chose SPU because they showed me how much they cared for me and how much they wanted me to be a part of their family. The area of the school is not too far from home and it’s next to the beautiful downtown Seattle. My parents always told me about the importance of focusing on my education and the importance of using my talents in basketball to get a free education. At SPU they showed me their value in learning programs, as it is a smaller school, giving me better access to professors.”
Thompson added, “When Jalena called I was really happy for her, I think she will love everything about SPU, and I think she will turn some heads as soon as she gets on campus.”
Carlisle is extremely thankful that she got recognized by a school before the pandemic began because she knows how hard it has been on other 2021 athletes. The challenges presented by Covid, such as gym closures, have not stopped Carlise at all from getting better.
“I have used quarantine as a time to dial in my fundamentals. Every day I would go in the garage and lift weights and do ball-handling workouts. To improve my game I would also go to parks and get shots up.”
As restrictions have started to relax and gyms are starting to open up again, she is taking full advantage.
“Now that some gyms have opened up, I have been able to play with my teammates while practicing social distancing. Of course, it is hard considering basketball is very physical, but I would do anything to get into a gym.”
The motivation behind all this work that she is putting in is to get better for the upcoming high school season.
Carlisle said, “It is my senior season so I hope that we will get the chance to play, but there are no promises. Next season I would love to win the state championship. It’s something we have been working on all of our high school careers. Although I am so excited to play at Seattle Pacific, my job is not done at Camas yet.”