The Martlet basketball team has not lost a game this season and is the only undefeated team remaining in the CIS. McGill currently sits atop the RSEQ Conference with a record of 8-0, and have a lot to be proud about. With a wonderful coach and amazing teammates, it is no wonder that senior guard Carolann Cloutier will be sad to leave this all behind.
The Quebec born, South Shore-raised student-athlete has been playing at the university level for almost five years—her experience both on and off the court in those years has been quite eventful.
Despite her smooth handle and natural shot, many will be surprised to learn that Cloutier’s athletic career did not begin with a basketball in her hands. Growing up, she played soccer—basketball was reserved for gym class. When she was eight, her gym teacher noticed that she had a talent for the sport and encouraged her parents to sign her up for a weekend league. When she was 15, Cloutier was faced with a tough decision–soccer or basketball. She chose the latter because she felt that she had “more of a future in basketball.” She was right.
Cloutier would go on to play for Dawson College. In her last year, she was discovered by an NCAA scout and moved to the U.S. where her athletic career took off.
“You’re busy all the time but then you become organized and disciplined,” Cloutier said, reflecting on the shock of transitioning into the U.S. sports atmosphere. “At first, you miss home; the first semester was really hard, but then you get used to it— you have your routine.”
For her first year in the NCAA, she played at Old Dominion University in Virginia. Unsatisfied with the way things were progressing, but unwilling to come home, she decided to transfer to the University of Massachusetts, where she played two more years in the NCAA and obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
After graduating, Cloutier still wanted to continue playing while also furthering her education. Enter the Martlets—she applied to McGill for a master’s degree to continue playing. In Canada, student-athletes are allowed to play for a maximum of five years. Having spent three years in the NCAA, Cloutier had only two more years to obtain her M.Ed in Educational Psychology.
Looking back on her years at UMass, Cloutier noted that the main difference between playing in the U.S. and in Canada is that the NCAA is more demanding.
“You kind of owe it to them because they pay for everything including housing, food, books, and electricity […] so when they tell you to come in and do an extra workout you can’t really say no,” Cloutier explained.
Her parents have also been a crucial part of her journey. Being an only child, they were able to come and watch her play quite often, and when they visited, they would never come empty-handed.
“[My mom would] prepare me meals and put them in the freezer […] so then it was so much easier and I didn’t have to cook as much,” Cloutier reminisced fondly.
In the two years that Cloutier has played for the Martlets, she says that her greatest focus has been on defence.
“I think that is definitely our strength because most teams [don’t] score as much on us as they do when they play other teams,” Cloutier said. “Before Christmas, when we played Laval, they averaged 70 points [per] game and we held them down to about 46. I think with [Head Coach] Ryan [Thorne], it always starts with defence, and if we can stop people, then I’m not worried about offence.”
If she had the chance to do it all over again, she would have taken the same route.
“I like that I’m ending [at] home [in Montreal],” Cloutier said. “I don’t think I would have left if I had started here [at McGill].”
McGill Tribune (MT): Who is your favourite player in the NBA?
Carolann Cloutier (CC): My favorite player is Kobe Bryant. My mom bought tickets for me for Christmas to go watch Kobe in Brooklyn […] and I [got] a message on my phone [prior to this interview] that Kobe is out for the season.
MT: What is your idea of the perfect day?
CC: The beach. I love it—I actually went to Cuba for Christmas. I just like to lie there or go on a walk the beach. The sound of the water is so relaxing.
MT: If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?
CC: Honestly, I would have to sit down and not start spending money like crazy. I really like shoes. I would definitely travel. I would see if I could keep playing basketball, and then the salary would not matter because I would already be rich.
MT: Most played song on your iPod?
CC: You know that movie Pitch Perfect? They played that song Titanium by David Guetta and it’s definitely my most listened-to song in my car.
MT: Favourite Montreal restaurant?
CC: Lately I’ve been going a lot to Le Vieux Duluth. I just love food in general. But I definitely missed Tim Horton’s when I was gone; Dunkin’ Donuts is not the same.