The first year of college brings hope, opportunity and challenges to students and even more so to student-athletes.
Enumclaw's Riley Carel faced many changes, and obstacles as he entered Seattle Pacfic University in the fall of 2010. He had to adjust to being on his own away from home in the diverse environment of Seattle. The speed of play at the college level for basketball, and the rigorous academic structure of a school the caliber of Seattle Pacific, added to his challenges.
Carel spoke recently about his transition from playing basketball nearly winning a state championship and academic life in high school to school life and playing basketball in college.
"It was a big difference in high school. You face centers who are 6-foot-6, and in college you see 7-footers at center," Carel said."Also, the speed of play was a huge difference as well."
Carel on the academic side of college life vs. high school said: "It's a lot more individualized. You have to be self-disciplined."
One of the keys to Carel ascending to the college level to play basketball was the time he spent around his family. Carel's mother, Jackie, is the head volleyball coach at Enumclaw High School, and his father, Rick, is the JV volleyball coach and the head girl's tennis coach.
Thus, Carel credits being around their programs for a lot of his work ethic and gym-rat nature.
"I was basically the waterboy for the volleyball team growing up," Carel said."We also took a lot of trips around the United States that evolved around sports so it brought us closer together as a family."
Carel played in a limited role as a reserve in the 2010-11 SPU season. He played in 21 games , and averaged 8.4 minutes of playing time as Seattle Pacific went to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament, which included an upset win at Central Washington in the first round.
Carel discussed the keys to training for his upcoming offseason as a Falcon.
"I will be lifting more weights to get stronger," Carel said. "I also need to get in the gym and get as many shots in repetition-wise as possible because we will need someone to step up next year shooting-wise."
SPU Coach Ryan Looney discussed Carel's strengths and how his role could evolve from his offseason work.
"Riley has a lot of toughness," Looney said. "The work he puts in this offseason will determine a lot as far as his role goes next season as we return 12 players."
Moreover, Carel discussed his personal goals for his upcoming sophomore year.
"I just want to get more comfortable," Carel said. "I also want to earn an expanding role as well."
In regard to his team coming back in 2011-12, Carel is excited about the possibilities.
"We are going to be a lot younger, but I think we can surprise some people." Carel said. "Also, that win over Central Washington in the NCAA Tournament is a huge confidence boost for us coming into this season."
SPU plays in the GNAC Conference at the NCAA Division II level and plays its home games on campus at Brougham Pavillion. For more information go to www.spufalcons.com