By Skylar Litton
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
On a team that features 10 newcomers, Ally Clardy has become a senior leader for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball team. She has endured the highs and lows that come with a four-year career and sees strong potential when she looks at this year’s team.
“As a team we have great senior leadership and great younger players, so I think we have the opportunity to surprise people and make a run at the Big 12 Championship,” Clardy said.
Clardy, the native of Argyle, Texas, has been playing for OSU since she was a freshman and graduated a semester early in December. She plans to go on to graduate school after she completes her eligibility this season, but right now her main focus is basketball.
The Cowgirl guard knew when it came to picking a college that she wanted to be close enough to her hometown so her parents could come and watch her play. With Argyle being almost four hours from Stillwater, having her parents at every game completes Clardy while she is on the court.
“I feel so lucky to have my parents at every game,” Clardy said. “My parents have given me so much love, support, faith and confidence by supporting me at every single game since my freshman year at OSU. A part of me is missing on the court if my parents are not in the stands; my parents are my rock.”
The Cowgirls have added some talented new players to the team this season, which ramps up the competition for playing time. Clardy is working hard to earn her share of minutes.
“I feel like as an individual I have worked really hard to prepare myself for this part of the season,” Clardy said. “I hope to accomplish valuable and productive minutes for my team when my name is called. As a team, we hope to grow together as one as we work toward our goal of winning a Big 12 Championship.”
With this being Clardy’s last season, she hopes to teach the new faces to the team that no matter what adversity occurs, do not lose the spirit or passion for the game.
“You never know when your team will need you to step up and contribute,” Clardy said. “It’s important to always work hard and have a positive attitude.”
It’s obvious that Clardy loves the game of basketball and loves being on the court, whether it is at practice or during a game. She said that she is usually the most excited player every day in the gym, and she is not the only one who thinks this. Senior Megan Byford has been able to establish a close relationship with Clardy on and off the court.
“Ally has the best spirit and best work ethic of anyone on our team because of everything she has been through,” Byford said. “She trumps through it and doesn’t crumble under anything you throw at her. She will sit there and take it, learn from it and come back stronger than you.”
Being a part of any team will result in close bonds with teammates and coaches. Clardy said that the connection amongst the seniors is incredible because when they have been through as much as they have over the years, there are two things that can happen; the team can either pull apart or pull together.
“We have definitely pulled together,” Clardy said. “It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of our basketball careers, it seems like it just started.”
What are Clardy’s plans once she steps off court for the last time at the end of the season? She said next year will be a big change because she’s always had a basketball in her hand; it’s all she has known.
“I’m going to miss basketball in general; the competition, the friendships and practices,” Clardy said. “I am going to miss the whole thing; I guess I will have to find something to take its place.”
Playing for a Big 12 team and competing for a spot on the court is never easy. Clardy said the hardest thing about playing for OSU has been learning to accept her role on the team, but never being satisfied and never giving up.
“Every player in the Big 12 was a star in high school, but only five can play on the court at one time,” Clardy said. “The adjustment of being a role player has probably been the hardest part.”
Anyone who has attended a game at Gallagher-Iba Arena knows it is loud, which means for competitors it can be a rough atmosphere to play in. However, for OSU athletes, Gallagher-Iba Arena filled with OSU fans is always a supporting atmosphere that is great to play in. Clardy said she couldn’t imagine having a different home court to play on.
When Clardy hits the court, not only will she be ready to play, but her shoelaces will be adorned with her lucky charms. She has collected five charms over her basketball career at OSU with each representing a different meaning to the guard.
“I also wear the same sports bra and socks for the games,” Clardy said. “I have a certain pair I wear with my home and away jerseys; I also eat a banana before each game.”
Clardy hopes to keep increasing her playing time as the conference schedule hits stride.
“I have worked extremely hard to earn the coaching staff’s trust, which starts in the offseason and continues in the summer and preseason,” Clardy said. “It’s been a long time coming and I just want to make the most of it.”