Carolyn Carrera will enroll this fall at Hofstra, where she will pursue her interests in science and engineering. Between laborious hours of classwork and study, she'll play for the soccer team. And in the spring, between more rounds of classwork and study, she'll play for the lacrosse team.
But how? How will she possibly manage such a dense and demanding workload? Easy! It will be less hectic than her schedule is now.
In short, Carrera is . . . the captain of her high school soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams and is Riverhead's senior class president who works two jobs and is heavily involved in community service and fundraising, while also maintaining a 98.57 average.
You might've had to catch your breath just reading that aloud.
"I always dreamed of playing both sports at the Division I level," said Carrera, a lacrosse midfielder and soccer goalie. "It's stressful at times, but it comes down to prioritizing. Sometimes I'll have to sacrifice hanging out with friends in order to accomplish certain things."
The list of accomplishments is even longer than her itinerary. It includes being named a Brine All-American and a U.S. Lacrosse academic All-American. Carrera, last fall, was a finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman, an award that recognizes seniors who excel athletically and academically. She was "shocked" to have advanced to the final six from a group of 48,000 applicants. But, all things considered, was it that surprising?
Carrera also raised over $6,000 for New Beginnings, which is renovating a home in Riverhead to house 14 traumatic brain injury patients, she said. Among them will be her friend and former classmate, Michael Hubbard.
"She's unlike any young lady I've come across," Riverhead lacrosse coach Ashley King said. "Her focus is incredible and she's into so many things. I don't know how she fits it all in one day. Even if it's overwhelming, she finds a way and never lets up."
That also applies to the field, where Carrera is a leader in words and deeds. She leads the Blue Waves with 33 points, but more telling of her "grittiness and hustle," King said, is the 38 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers.
That drive, Carrera said, was instilled early on by her parents Mario and Dawn Carrera. In fact, when Carolyn was 8, she was determined to play lacrosse, although Riverhead didn't yet have a girls youth league . . . so she played on a boys team for three years.
"I had the full pads and helmet on, with just a little ponytail sticking out," Carrera said, chuckling. "Most people didn't even know, and I was my team's top scorer."
She eventually joined an out-of-town girls club team in middle school, and Riverhead High School got a varsity program four years ago. That "never say never" attitude has endured and it's led Carrera where she is now: on the verge of becoming a two-sport Division I student-athlete (emphasis on "student").
"There's always room for improvement, so I keep striving to be better," Carrera said. "I know I can always do more."
Can she really, though?