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O'Hara's Carly Coleman going the two-sport route at Immaculata

05/31/2024, 12:00pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

An unexpected move led to an unexpected result for Carly Coleman.

The Cardinal O’Hara hooper had planned on going to college as a student-athlete in basketball only, looking at a number of small-college options in the Northeast. But before her senior year, a move on the soccer pitch changed her collegiate plans. 

So instead of just playing one sport in college, she’s doubling up, playing both basketball and soccer at Immaculata University.

Carly Coleman (above) will play both soccer and basketball at Immaculata. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“I’ve talked to many people who played one [sport] in the fall and one in the spring,” she said. “Obviously it’s going to be a lot, but I think I can take on the challenge and I’m excited for it.”

It started with a position change last fall.

Formerly a center defender, the 5-foot-11 Coleman moved up to striker as a senior to help give the Lions some offensive firepower. She ended up scoring more than 20 goals, earning First Team All-Catholic League honors, helping the Lions to a top-four finish in the PCL standings after finishing second from the bottom the year before.

Her father, Brian Coleman, a former soccer coach at Springfield (Delco.) High, wasn’t going to let that one go.

“My dad (kept) questioning, well, what if you want to play soccer in college?” Coleman said. “He’s a soccer coach, always kept soccer in the back of my mind, but I was like, ‘well, two sports at college, that’s kind of crazy.”

Coleman continued on to her starting spot on the Lions’ hoops team in the winter, playing a major role for Chrissie Doogan’s squad as it won the PIAA 6A state championship. At that point, she still planned to only play hoops at the next level, a variety of high-level Division III programs and some others staying in touch about joining them for 2024-25.

But after a family situation caused her to think about staying closer to home for college, she began to rethink what she would do at the next level. Her older brother, Kyle Coleman, was a freshman at Immaculata this past year, playing on their soccer team as well. 

First, she had to make sure he wouldn’t be annoyed if his younger sister joined him at school: “But he talked to me about it, and he was like, it would not make me mad or upset that you would join me,” she said.

That’s one problem solved. 

Problem two: getting onto the rosters.

Immaculata basketball coach Brittany Whalen had reached out to Coleman earlier in her senior year, but she hadn’t been interested due to her brother’s attendance. With that hurdle out of the way, she reached back out to the Mighty Macs’ coach to see if there was still a chance. 

“Since it was so long past when people usually commit, I asked her if she had roster spots left, and she was like ‘yeah absolutely, we would love to have you,’ and I asked her if I could join the soccer team as well,” Coleman said. “She was like, ‘absolutely.’”

Problem three: Immaculata doesn’t currently have a soccer coach. 

The school’s in the middle of a coaching search, Coleman saying she hoped to know who it would be within the next month. So it was Paul Murphy, the school’s athletics director, who had to add Coleman to the soccer roster — as a striker, not a defender. 

Though basketball is her ‘primary’ sport, she’ll lace up her soccer cleats in the fall and go with the IU soccer team as long as their season lasts before switching over to the hardwood. Last year, the soccer season ended on Oct. 25, a couple weeks before the basketball season opener on Nov. 8. 

Coleman will be joining a hoops squad that went 15-11 last year, including a 7-3 mark in the Atlantic East conference in Whalen’s first season at her alma mater. The Mighty Macs’ top two scorers return, but several other seniors graduate, so there’s a chance for Coleman to contribute right away.

A versatile wing/forward, she was more of a defensive and rebounding specialist for O’Hara as a junior but really contributed in the scoring column as a senior, showing her 3-point skills as well as her post scoring and ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim.

“Chrissie used to label me anything from a ‘1’ to a ‘5,’” she said, “and I think having that ability to bring the ball up or post someone up is awesome, and something that coach Brittany likes. I think it’s just all going to fall into place and wherever she needs me, I’ll play.”

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