This is the first in a monthly series entitled ‘Where are they now?’ that will feature the stories of SOL alums. Suggestions are welcome and may be submitted by e-mail to the following address: SuburbanOneSports@comcast.net.
*Photo courtesy of Arcadia University
Losing is something that Colleen Carney never got used to at William Tennent, and as the first-year head girls basketball coach at Avon Grove, she wants to make sure her players develop the same distaste for defeat.
The Red Devils won a total of seven games in the previous three seasons before Carney took over this year. As of Feb. 1, Avon Grove was 10-8 and in third place in the rugged Ches-Mont League behind Downingtown East and Downingtown West.
"Instilling the winning attitude is the most important thing," said Carney. "The seniors have had three coaches in four years. It's a challenge but, bit by bit, we're improving."
If Avon Grove had a player of the ability of Carney, they would probably have a few more wins.
When she graduated from from Tennent in 1988, the 5-foot-9 Carney was the third all-time leading scorer in Bucks County girls basketball history with 1,542 points even though she did not play on varsity her freshman year. She was also named an All-American as a field hockey player and was a star shortstop on the softball team.
But the road from Warminster to a small school deep in Chester County sent Carney all over the East Coast.
Although basketball was her favorite sport, Carney played field hockey for the University of Connecticut, where she was a starter at midfielder for the Huskies.
"My coach at Tennent, Judy Cunningham, just had so many connections, and I was getting bigger offers for field hockey than basketball," she said.
After graduating from UConn in 1992, Carney moved to Florida where she was the special events coordinator for a senior community of 23,000 in Orlando.
"I had a great time," Carney remembers. "We'd have a big Fourth of July parade, and I'd arrange it and line up the fireworks and, of course, organize all kinds of sports leagues."
For 13 years Carney lived in the Sunshine State, but she started to get homesick. Her brother Joe Carney was living with his family in Chester County, and she had a favorite aunt in South Jersey she wanted to see more often.
She moved to West Chester, and things slowly fell into place. She lives with Ashley Miller - a 25-year-old with Downs syndrome - in a house in Kennett Square where she helps keep an eye on her. She was also the head field hockey coach at Arcadia University from 2007-2008 before she had to resign when she got a full-time job with Chester County Futures.
"It's a non-profit organization that tries to help kids from at-risk homes," said Carney, who is the curriculum director for grades 9-10 in Coatesville. "We have branches all over Chester County."
Coaching has been a big part of Carney's life since her return.
She was an assistant coach at Bishop Shanahan for three years. She also coached the Sparks 15-and-under girls AAU basketball team to a third place finish in the country at the AAU national tournament back in her old stomping grounds in Orlando in 2007.
One of the players on her AAU team was her niece, Lizzy Carney. Ironically, she plays for Unionville and Avon Grove played the Indians last Saturday, defeating the Red Devils 49-46
"It was very weird,” said Carney.
One of her first duties at Avon Grove was a scrimmage at William Tennent.
"That was fun," Carney said. "I got to see Mel Gindin, who was still there."
Gindin was the head coach when she played and is now an assistant.
Carney's travels have given her an exciting life, and it also had led an interesting development with her alma mater. She is undoubtedly the only person to be inducted into the Tennent Hall of Fame twice.
She was inducted in 2002, but she was in Florida at the time, and no one in the administration could track her down so she got inducted without knowing about it. They finally tracked her down, and she was also part of the Class of 2008, although her plaque was already on the wall.
"It was great that Tennent did that," she said. "My family and friends got to be a part of it. It was a great ceremony they threw."