Carley Cottingham’s dream of being part of the Liberty University women’s basketball program has come true, albeit in a vastly different manner than she could have ever imagined.
The oldest daughter of Liberty alumni Chad and Kristen Cottingham, Carley wanted to walk on to the highly successful women’s basketball team at her parents’ alma mater. The walk-on tryout looked promising after she led her high school team at Three Rivers High School (Three Rivers, Mich.) in scoring and earned All-Wolverine Conference honors as both a sophomore and junior.
Cottingham’s plans were derailed, however, after she developed Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) in the spring of 2009. TOC is a rare disorder that caused her to lose circulation in her dominant right arm. Despite her doctors’ best efforts, Cottingham’s right hand had to be amputated just prior to the start of her senior year at Three Rivers.
In the midst of intense obstacles, Cottingham resolved to play basketball despite the loss of her hand. She made it back onto the court for the fourth game of her senior season after re-learning how to shoot and play without her dominant arm. Remarkably, Cottingham earned all-conference honors for the third straight season while also earning media attention from ESPN and the Detroit Free Press. (Visit ESPN to view a series of videos on Carley's story.)
Although she no longer had a chance to play basketball for the Lady Flames, Cottingham followed in her father’s footsteps as a college basketball manager. She has served as a manager for the Liberty women’s basketball team for four seasons and explained “doing this job makes me miss basketball a lot, but I’m very thankful to be a part of this team.”
On track to graduate in May 2014, Cottingham hopes to use her degree in sport management and her unique life experiences to work in collegiate basketball after graduation.