Carly Stroemel doesn’t consider herself a scorer.
She doesn’t doesn’t talk about strengths in terms of statistics.
Stroemel is a basketball player. The game runs in her family. She’s lived it, she said, since she was 4 years old.
And on a Paul VI girls’ basketball team that features virtually a brand new roster this season, the 6-foot-1 senior forward is exactly what Eagles coach Lisa Steele needs.
Between graduations, kids deciding not to play, and transfers -- including Naomi Shorts, Maniya Custis and Kyla Treadwell -- Stroemel, a four-year varsity starter, is a steadying presence.
And, lucky for her coach, Stroemel’s style matches what Steele envisions for her program. She calls it “Paul VI tough.”
“That’s what we preach” Steele said. “The vision of the program has always been toughness. And as much as people might not realize this about Carly, she’s just a tough player.”
Every year, Steele gives her players the same sheet of paper. It’s a list of about 35 traits that constitute toughness in basketball.
Steele goes over one item on the list before every game. It ranges from diving for loose balls to looking your teammates in the eyes. They’re the kinds of things that are as important, Steele said, as talent.
Her senior leader tends to agree.
“I’ve always taken the approach that you have to do the little things,” Stroemel said. “Basketball is about taking those little things and turning them into big achievements.”
Stroemel has long been one of the area’s most highly regarded players. She recently signed a letter of intent to play Division I basketball at Sacred Heart. She stands out to anyone who watches her play, and she’s been a key contributor on a team that is consistently among the best in South Jersey.
But Stroemel wants her overall game to stand out, not her individual stats. Despite seeing major varsity minutes since her freshman year, Stroemel is still 332 points shy of 1,000. That’s just fine with her.
“We’ve always had girls who can score,” Stroemel said. “I’ve been happy to contribute more with my rebounding and blocking shots. Whatever helps us win.”
Stroemel learned the game from her father, Russ, a well-known presence in South Jersey basketball circles since his playing days at Sterling and Rider University in the 1970s. He was Carly’s coach through most of her childhood, and she said her parents helped spark her love for the game.
“I have a great relationship with my dad,” Stroemel said. She added that, these days, the conversations around the dinner table almost always center on basketball. But she laughed and added: “Don’t worry. We do talk about a lot of other things as well.”
Her dedication to the game has Stroemel poised for a breakout season on and off the court. She expects to score more, and she thinks the 1,000-point mark is a realistic goal. But she’s willing to do anything the team needs. And she wants to lead her team on and off the court, on offense and defense.
She wants to share her knowledge of the game, to demonstrate what it means to play PVI tough.
“We’re a young team this year,” Stroemel said. “But we have a lot of talent. I’m just so excited to see what we can accomplish this year.”