WBB: Billy Fennelly talks Carleton’s Olympic Journey on Built to Lead Podcast

Bridget Carleton’s Olympic dreams were delayed a year due to the Pandemic, but later on this July, the former Cyclone will take the court for the Canada National team.

It’s never been a secret that Carleton’s goals included playing for the team in the Olympics, however Iowa State assistant coach Billy Fennelly revealed on the Cyclone Fanatic Built to Lead Podcast that it actually impacted her during recruiting.

“I remember the very first recruiting conversation Coach Steyer had with her,” Fennelly said on the podcast. “She made it very clear that her goal in her basketball career was to be an Olympian. With that came every summer not being with our team. She was with Canada Basketball, kind of climbing the ladder.”

That scared some schools away.

Carleton’s absence during the summer months wasn’t something they wanted to deal with.

“With all of that u18’s, u19’s, World championships…” Fennelly said. “I know a couple of teams that recruited her really tried to make it seem like, ‘OK, we’ll support you, but we really want you with our team doing our stuff.'”

Iowa State accepted Carleton with open arms, though.

She was gone every summer, preparing her game for international ball.

The staff in Ames, especially strength coach Cassandra Baier, communicated extensively with Canada Basketball.

“We worked very closely with Canada Basketball in terms of what they wanted from her and what they wanted to see from her,” Fennelly said. “We worked closely with their coaches about what to develop along the way, not just for us but also for them.”

Carleton went on to become one of the best players in Iowa State history and will now help lead Canada in this year’s Olympic Games.

“It worked out really really well, obviously,” Fennelly said. “Along the way, she became one of the greatest players ever at Iowa State – winning a Big 12 Player of the year – and now she’s an Olympian. It’s unbelievable really. We all kind of knew it was going to happen and she was ready for it last year, obviously it got moved back.”

Canada will kick off group play on Monday, July 26 facing Serbia in Game 1 of the tournament.

“I bought Will a jersey and a Canada Basketball T-Shirt,” Fennelly said. “We’ll be proudly representing hopefully late at night into July. I’ll let Will stay up a little late and eat some popcorn.”

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