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For week ended January 10, 1999 Posted 21 Jan 1999
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Carpenter is BYU's surprise Cougar

Summarized by Donna Williams

Carpenter is BYU's surprise Cougar
Deseret News 6Jan99
By Jeff Call: Deseret News sports writer

Logan native Mari Burningham Carpenter, highly recruited four years ago from Sky View High School, where she was an all-state volleyball and basketball star and Deseret News prep volleyball MVP in 1994, signed a letter of intent to play volleyball and basketball for the UCLA Bruins.

During a one year stint with the Bruins, she was an All-Pac 10 freshman team honorable mention selection as a voleyball player. But she disliked being so far from home and found her classes "too large and impersonal." In addition she felt she received inadequate medical attention for a herniated disc in her back, an injury she originally received in high school and reaggravated at UCLA.

At that time, she seriously looked into attending Utah, a school that had tried hard to recruit her out of high school. At first, Carpenter agreed to play volleyball and basketball for the Utes, but changed her mind later, saying, "I didn't feel good about it in my heart; I was miserable."

Carpenter finally decided to head for Ricks Junior College. After playing volleyball there for just one week, she reinjured her back and had to undergo surgery which forced her to miss the season there.

But a year later, she came back and decided to concentrate solely on volleyball, a decision that paid off in a stellar year in 1997 when she led the NJCAA in kills per game per game (5.7) and was named first team NJCAA All-America. And, on the personal side, she met and wed student assistant coach, Nathan Carpenter.

When Nathan decided to attend BYU, Ricks volleyball coach Joann Reeves called BYU volleyball coach Elaine Michaelis on Carpenter's behalf. Although BYU had attempted to recruit Carpenter out of high school, she had paid little notice, especially since her parents had discouraged her attendance there. Coach Michaelis did not have any women's volleyball scholarships available, but women's basketball coach Trent Shippen, who had coached at Ricks the previous year, did. So Carpenter accepted the offer and enrolled at BYU.

This past fall, despite chronic back pain, Carpenter earned All-WAC volleyball honors as an outside hitter on a squad that came one game away from a Final Four appearance. As soon as volleyball season concluded, Carpenter joined the basketball team. This is the the first time she has been played competitive basketball in three years, and Coach Shippen is bringing her along slowly, especially since basketball is a much more physical game and is much harder physically on her back.

But Carpenter is happy with where she is and feels she has found her niche. She notes that her parents, who originally discouraged her attending BYU, are now staunch supporters since they see how happy she is.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information