Jenna McCartin

School: Central Bucks South



Favorite athlete: Paige Bueckers

Favorite team: Uconn Women’s basketball

Favorite memory competing in sports: I scored five 3-point shots in a tight game to help my team win one of my last AAU games.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports:  I was playing at an AAU tournament a couple years ago, and the whole bottom of one of my shoes ripped off during a game so I had to play the rest of my games that day with tape wrapped around my shoe.

Music on my playlist: SZA, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and The Weeknd. My favorite song to listen to before games is “Run This Town” by Rihanna

Future plans: I am undecided on where I am going to college, but I plan on majoring in either education or exercise science.

Words to live by: “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”

One goal before turning 30: Travel as much as possible to places I’ve never been before.

One thing people don’t know about me: I have a scar under my eye from falling on a playground in kindergarten.

By Mary Jane Souder

Jenna McCartin was ready. All but counting the days until the start of her final high school basketball season.

After patiently biding her time, the Central Bucks South senior was ready to step into the varsity lineup and contribute.  And with the graduation of five seniors from last year’s squad, McCartin – a swing player and captain of the JV as a junior - knew the opportunity was there to be a significant contributor.

It wasn’t a spot she would lay claim to simply because she was a senior but because she had done the work.

“I already knew last season that this season would be a big season for me - that I would be able to start and get a lot more playing time,” McCartin said. “Over the summer, we were lifting twice a week, I was working out on my own, and I was playing basketball on my own.

“I was going to outdoor parks at 9 a.m. in 90-degree weather, shooting on my own. Then our preseason started, and we were still lifting a couple of times a week and having open gyms.”

Things couldn’t have been going any better.

“Jenna is a well-rounded player,” CB South basketball coach Beth Mattern said. “She can knock down an open three or take the ball to the hoop.  Most importantly, she doesn’t try to do too much and is a reliable teammate on the court. She wants to play basketball, and she has a great attitude.

“She’s the ultimate team player, and she’s the kind of kid you’re really excited for because you know now it’s her opportunity. Knowing this was going to be her last season, honestly, she has done everything asked of her plus more to prepare for this season to do what she can.”

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always follow the planned script. On Oct. 12, McCartin’s hopes and dreams for her final high school season came crashing down with one small move during a drill at open gym.

“I felt my knee pop,” McCartin said. “I fell on the ground, and my knee was stuck in a bent position, and I don’t know if I was screaming in pain, but I remember coach Mattern coming over to me. I held her hand and didn’t let her go. It was a lot of pain.
Mattern – who’d watched then senior Alyssa D’Orazio go down with a torn ACL late in the regular season last year – knew immediately that this could very well mark the end of McCartin’s season before it even began.

“It was awful – to me, it’s just heartbreaking,” the Titans’ coach said. “When Alyssa tore her ACL in a game last year, I thought that was going to be the most gutwrenching – and that was bad, don’t get me wrong, but back-to-back – this year we’re starting open gyms, and another senior tears her ACL. It was just like a punch in the gut because we all kind of stopped and stared at each other. It changed the whole mood of the gym that day.”

McCartin hasn’t forgotten the hours and days that followed.

“They carried me to the trainer’s room,” McCartin said. “The trainer told me he couldn’t tell what (the injury) was, so I was just laying in the trainer’s room with ice on my knee. I was thinking the worst, and I was thinking I was done.

“One of our assistant coaches – his wife used to work at Rothman, so they were able to help out me and my parents. They got us an appointment really quickly to get an MRI and everything.

The outcome was what McCartin had feared, and five days after going down, she received the official diagnosis – a torn ACL in her left knee.

“I knew that day we were supposed to be getting a phone call from the doctor,” she said. “My dad was out of town, but I knew they were going to be calling him, so all day I was texting him.

“I went to practice that night and was still texting my parents. Eventually, they stopped answering me, so I was thinking – either they know something or they’re not seeing my texts. I went home, and I saw my mom, and she just started crying when she saw me because I asked if she knew. Then I started crying. It was just the worst feeling ever.”

A season-ending injury was the very last thing on McCartin’s mind. Granted, she’d had her share of sprained ankles over the years and even had a concussion,

“I’ve been injured a couple of times during my career, but it’s never been anything too serious,” McCartin said. “I just never thought anything like this would ever happen to me.”


McCartin has been playing basketball since she was in fourth grade, beginning on the intramural circuit. She tried her hand at softball, but that lasted only one year. She began playing soccer as a youngster and continued until she was in sixth grade and opted to focus on basketball.

In fifth grade, McCartin began playing for a Warrington travel team.

“I was really close with my coaches and my teammates, and they just made basketball really fun,” she said. “I just really like competing.”

In seventh grade, McCartin joined the AAU circuit with Fencor and more recently competed with Rebels Academy. During her final AAU season, McCartin received a lot of exposure, and several D3 schools reached out to her.

“I want to go to a bigger school, so I didn’t think I was going to be playing,” she said.

McCartin had surgery on Nov. 9, and although undergoing intense rehab, she has remained with her team and was named a captain.

“She is absolutely probably everyone’s favorite on the team,” Mattern said. “She always has a smile on her face, and her temperament is always positive. She really has worked to make connections with everyone in the program.”

McCartin, it turns out, hasn’t forgotten what it was like being an underclassman.

“In years past, our team has always been really close, but there’s been certain people who are a lot closer than others, so this year I was really trying to get everyone involved with each other,” the senior captain said. “I know that personally when I was a freshman and sophomore – I had no confidence in myself going against all the older girls, so especially this year, I really wanted to help the younger girls feel more confident, talking to the underclassmen and going against them and just having confidence in themselves.”

McCartin has helped out where she can.

“For a while this season, we actually had a lot of people on the sidelines, so at practice, she was helping manage and talk to people and keep them moving in the right direction, staying positive, doing what they needed to do,” Mattern said. “The other day when we had a couple of assistants out sick, I handed her a stat sheet. In general, she’s our cheerleader on the sidelines. She talks to kids, she takes ownership of the bench and the energy that we have.”

“I’ve been going to all the practices and games,” McCartin said. “And just trying to cheer on everyone as much as possible.

“We played in a Christmas Tournament, and we won the tournament. It was definitely really hard watching. Obviously, I was supporting them and so happy they won, but it was really hard knowing I couldn’t contribute.”

In an unfortunate twist earlier this season, McCartin was joined on the sidelines by her sister Jordyn.

“The real kicker for that family – on the second day of tryouts, her younger sister is a freshman, and she fell and got a buckle fracture in her wrist, so now both Jenna and Jordyn are on the IR,” Mattern said. “No one wants to see that happen, but Jenna is sitting there – ‘Do you want to trade places? I’ll take 4-5 weeks out and then play.’ The good news is Jordyn is back playing.
“It definitely sucked that we were both out because I knew that she was excited to play,” Jenna said. “But I definitely would’ve rather been in her position than the position that I am in. But it was also nice having someone with me on the sidelines for a couple weeks especially because it was my sister, but I was also really excited for her to be able to play again.”

Away from the basketball court, McCartin is an excellent student who is actively involved in school life. She is part of South’s Athletes Helping Athletes program as well as Titans Connect. She is undecided on a college, but her top two schools are the University of South Carolina and Clemson. She is planning to major in education or exercise science with the goal of becoming an elementary or special education teacher or something in physical or occupational therapy.

As for basketball, McCartin has not closed the book on it.

“I was considering playing club or somehow still getting involved, and I still think I’m going to,” she said.

The senior captain takes with her a valuable lesson she learned through a sport she loves.

“To definitely not take anything for granted because you never know when it’s going to be your last time doing something,” McCartin said.