Tacoma Athletic Commission honored basketball player Carli Elwin as Pierce College Woman Athlete of the Year on May 9.
“It means a lot to me (to receive this award),” Elwin said. “I have been playing for 13 years, and I put in a lot of work. So it was really special to me.”
After playing basketball for Bonney Lake High School and graduating in 2011, Elwin continued on to play at Spokane Falls Community College. Her playing time at Spokane was limited because her playing style didn’t fit into its program, and Elwin said at that point she believed she didn’t have the talent to play at a collegiate level.
After that experience, Elwin was reluctant to continue her basketball career. When Pierce College’s Head Coach Brian Purugganan approached her, he convinced her to transfer to Pierce College. Elwin had an accuracy of 38 percent behind the 3-point line at Spokane, something that the Pierce College coaching staff took notice of.
“I decided to give it one more year,” Elwin said. “Coach Brian saw something in me that the Spokane Falls coach didn’t. He believed in my abilities and started building my confidence back up, which in turn developed me into the athlete I was able to become this season. For that, I am very grateful.”
Elwin scored an average of 22 points in the 27 games she played. She ended the season as the second leading scorer of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, trailing behind Erin Feeney from Everett Community College by only eight points. She led the league in highest amount of points scored in a single game, 45 points, which she scored versus Green River Community College on Feb. 16.
Elwin ended her year as Pierce College’s all-time single season scoring leader with 606 points overall.
Elwin said that her offensive success is due to her team and that without its point guard and the player’s support in successfully passing her the ball she would have never accomplished what she had.
“The team was great and it was a nice experience playing at Pierce,” Elwin said. “I loved all the girls.”
Elwin also contributed defensively, as she led the league, and set an additional Pierce record, in steals. Three of the Raiders earned spots as the top 10 in steals within the NWAACC. Elwin had 133 total steals, Alyssa Simonson was second in the league with 109 and Kawehi Hagi was seventh with 79.
“Our team focus was on defense,” Elwin said. “Our goal was to create chaos for the other team and create turnovers, and we had a very good group of guards who could do that.”
Due to her efforts, Elwin also was named onto the All-Defensive Team, as well as chosen as a First Team All-Star within the NWAACC West Division.
Elwin currently plans to transfer to a four-year university. She has received offers to play basketball for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, New Mexico Highlands University and Eastern Oregon University.
Elwin is leaning toward New Mexico Highlands University, mostly, she says, to escape the Washington weather. Elwin believes this year will be a good recruiting class for New Mexico Highlands University.
Outside the basketball court, Elwin works to pursue a strong education. She was selected to be on the NWAACC Winter Sports All-Academic Team because of her success academically.
“School has always been a priority to me,” Elwin said. “College is a whole different level so I had to put in more time and learn to balance both. It was a big achievement for me to say I could excel in basketball and academics.”
Although Elwin is uncertain of her career path, she’s interested in sports medicine and sports psychology.
“Overall, I had a really fun season,” she said, “and I hope the girls on my team all the best in their futures.”
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