Bringing smiles to the graduate assistant position

By Ally Racey

She can officially call Oakland University her Alma Mater, but she isn’t done being a Golden Grizzly just yet.

Amy Carlton played for the women’s basketball team at Oakland University for five years. Her passion for the sport, positive attitude and experience earned her a position as the new graduate assistant.

“I love being active and I love seeing my teammates every day and being a part of the team is an amazing feeling,” Carlton said.

“I immediately felt this was the spot for me for the next two years in my life.”

Carlton completed her fifth year of basketball at Oakland this year. She was a walk-on her freshman year, but was redshirted because of a torn ACL.

During her redshirt freshman year, she earned a full scholarship to play for the team and kept it for the rest of her career.

Carlton became a graduate assistant (GA) at the beginning of this fall semester.

“I applied for a GA position through athletics and the women’s basketball GA just so happened to be open,” Carlton said.

“It was a no brainer. It took me about two seconds to say ‘yep, you’re on board,’” head coach Jeff Tungate said.

Carlton said it’s a different aspect working alongside her teammates rather than playing with them.

“During scrimmages at practice, I find myself wanting to go in and play,” Carlton said.

Her main job as a graduate assistant is to open up the gym and help in drills during practice. She also helps the director of basketball operations and coaches in the office. 

Tungate said Carlton was a leader in the way she carried herself on and off the court. He mentioned how the things she did in the classroom separated her from everybody else.

“There’s no surprise that she’s able to continue helping us now in a different role and we’re excited to have her with us,” Tungate said.

She is pursuing a career in physical therapy and says working as a graduate assistant has given her plenty of experience for her future.

“When injuries occur, I am able to see how the players work back to getting on the floor again. Also, I continue to learn time management and how to be a leader throughout my experience as a GA,” she said.

Carlton completed her undergraduate degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy in 2014. This year, she will be completing her second year as a Doctor of Physical Therapy student and will graduate two years after that.

She plans to be a physical therapist, but working as a GA has interested her in coaching a local high school basketball team.

“Coaching is a rewarding feeling and seeing the girls improve their game is so much fun,” she said.

She said the hard work and hustle that each player shows gets her excited as a graduate assistant.

“These women accomplish things they never thought they were capable of and learn to overcome adversity, which are great characteristics to carry over into the real world,” Carlton said.

Everyone always calls Carlton “smiles,” and her teammates and coaches love the positivity she brings to practice each day along with her work ethic, which is why she was chosen for the graduate assistant position.

“She always brings positive energy and she’s always smiling,” senior Olivia Nash said.

Carlton is excited to see how much the women improve as a team this season.

“The chemistry for this team is great,” Carlton said.

She said working alongside her teammates has taught her many things.

“I have learned so much that goes behind the scenes for the team that I never knew as a player.”

She truly appreciates the hard work the coaches, director of operations, and video coordinator do to make women’s basketball a great experience for the team.

“They go above and beyond what any program would do to make sure the girls are prepared for their future after basketball,” she said.

Even though Carlton still sees her team everyday, it’s not the same as being on the court with them.

She misses the hard workouts and being her with team the most. She considers the women she played with as a part of her family.

“It’s like she really hasn’t left because she’s still a part of the team. She will always be a part of the family,” Nash said.

“It’s different, but she’ll always be there as a GA or a teammate.”

Carlton isn’t sure where she will be in the future. She said she is taking one day at a time and soaking up every experience that comes her way.

“I am so thankful for all the opportunities and memories I have already had.”

She is looking forward to all that will happen in the future including her marriage to former Oakland swimmer, Jake Quinnan, on July 1, 2016.