Andraya Carter talks about living her Lady Vol dream
Photo by Chad Greene, 2012 // Buy this photo
The clock on the microwave read two minutes ... and counting.
Andraya Carter had laundry to put away and a mirror to clean before her food was heated.
"There was two minutes and I was like 'I wonder if I can get this done?' " the Tennessee women's basketball freshman said.
"I was in the house by myself and I was running," Carter said. "I ran back to the microwave right as it went off and I was like 'Yes!' You would've thought I won a championship. I was so excited and nobody was even there to watch."
Carter's formative years abound with tales of such competitive zeal.
She finished fourth in her class academically at Buford (Ga.) High. Good for her. But not quite good enough, considering Carter remembers the names of the three girls who finished ahead of her.
As a competitive cheerleader, there's video of her wagging a finger at her teammates. She gave up on the competition when it became just regular cheerleading.
"I was like, 'Who wins?' and my mom was like 'Well, the football team wins.' " Carter said. "And I was like 'Why would I want to do that if I can't win?' "
As a seventh grader, she jumped at the chance to play for an AAU team of ninth graders and carved out a playing role for herself. At Buford, she played varsity as a freshman and played on state championship teams from 2009-11.
"I just wanted to win at everything,'' Carter said. "It was kind of a pride thing."
Now the 5-foot-9 guard is living her childhood dream at Tennessee, playing for a program that's hung eight national championship banners as testament to its competitive zeal. At UT, she can compete to her heart's content, provided she's careful not to get overheated.
"I've gotten a lot better,'' she said. "In high school, I'd get really stressed out with school and basketball. I wanted to do so well. One of my trainers told me that you press so much, you're going to end up going backward. I want to be great and I want to do well and I want to work hard. But you have to have a balance."
Q: Do you prefer to be called 'Draya' or Andraya
A: For official papers and stuff I use Andraya. My mom and my best friend, they call me Andraya but normally everyone else calls me Draya.
Q: In high school, you suffered an ACL knee injury and a shoulder injury, how are you doing now?
A: I'm doing well. I had good trainers back at my school for my ACL. I worked really hard to come back because I wanted to play some of my senior season. After my senior year, I took a little break because of my shoulder and because of my knee and tried to rest my body. Now that I've gotten up here it's been great. We do a lot of maintenance for both my knee and my shoulder.
Q: Can you think of something somebody would be surprised to know about you?
A: I'm scared of birds. My Nana's always been scared of birds and when I was younger she'd (say) 'Watch out for the birds!' There's one picture of me feeding bread to geese and I never understand it because, right now, especially geese, they just freak me out.
Q: Is that something someone's had fun with?
A: My best friends back at home, there's six of us. We all went to the beach one time. I was taking a nap on the beach and they put a trail of bread to me so the birds would come. It was terrible. I was a little bitter.