Carlie Smith- The Celebrity You Don't Know Yet

By now, you have heard me talk endlessly about Carlie. I have talked about how great of a person she is, about how talented she is yada, yada, yada. The thing about Carlie is, most people have a preconception of her. People don't really get a chance to know her, they make up their own assumptions. Our time on the Sunshine Coast was very evident of that, but such is life. For the first installment of People of Interest I decided to use Carlie, because I want you to know why Carlie is so incredible, and I want you all to be able to come back to this blog in a few years time just so I could tell you, "I told you so." So let me go on and brag about how lucky I am and tell you why.

Carlie is Australian, growing up in Canberra, the nations capitol. As a kid, Carlie excelled at sports, I mean a flat out stud. She holds records in both track and basketball that are 15 years old. Some of the kids I have worked with in Canberra sent me pictures of her records throughout the schools she attended in her youth for proof (not that I actually needed it.)

When Carlie was 16, she began struggling with mental health. She quit basketball, she stopped socialising, and moved with her mom to Wollongong, a city about two hours from Canberra.

"Yeah, I was going through a lot of things all at once. When it rains it pours- all of a sudden it was just negative thing after negative thing, and I fell into that cycle. But then I realised, 'I just need to break the cycle. I am going to make a concerted effort and I am going to break this cycle."

Carlie was highly revered at this age for her abilities on the basketball court. She was being talked about as the next great Australian female player, so suffice to say, when she quit playing it was a big deal.

"I'm not afraid to discuss my mental health. What I don't like though, is everyone labels you for having mental health issues. I think we all suffer from mental health issues, but I think it makes people not want to speak out on their own issues. I communicated my issues to a professional and sought help, and as a result, got my life back on track in a sense."

Upon her return to basketball, Carlie had articles written about her, even reaching the Sydney Herald, one of Australia's biggest news outlets.

"Like I said, I'm not afraid to talk about my mental health. But people started feeling sorry for me. I was really confused by that because I was still the same me. I'm a VERY happy and bubbly sort of person. I just wanted to get help to get back to feeling that way."

"There's such a negative stigma on mental health, especially in the sporting world. When coaches and clubs are recruiting me, that conversation always comes up. After 30 seconds they can see that is just part of my past, not who I am."

Carlie has conquered her obstacles at every turn, though. She would go on to be Australia's number 1 ranked 3x3 player for consecutive years, representing Australia and winning a gold and bronze medal in the FIBA Asia games in 2017 and 2018.

"It was f*cking sick," as she laughs when I ask her. "It doesn't really hit you until you get the jersey, and you're holding it up, looking at the green and gold. You put it on and just realise it's just a really special moment."

"I know it's cliche, but to represent your country is a really special thing. I am proud to be Australian, so to be able represent that was a really incredible experience and something I will never forget."

Carlie is now a member of the WNBL, one of the highest recognised women's leagues in the entire world, and is set to begin her rookie season. I am personally incredibly proud of the player she has become- the work she puts in to this and the dedication is so inspiring and I am grateful to have the front row view to it. One day, she will be on the world stage, as an olympian, and will continue to work to the highest levels of the sport (this is where the "celebrity that you don't know yet," part kicks in. Trust me, just give it time.)

Basketball is great and all, but Carlie the basketball player is probably the fifth or sixth most impressive version of herself.

Carlie the human, is by and far the most impressive person there is.

"I just want to see everyone happy. I can't stand the judgement in society. We are all doing the best we can and you never know what someone is going through. I have had a lot of comments my way that 'there is more than what meets the eye.' I can't tell you how much I hate that comment. Why should I be judged by another person before they even bother to get to know me? But that's the issue with society today, everyone judges everyone and we get nowhere with it."

While we were living on the Sunshine Coast, Carlie was badly bullied. Women in particular, were extremely judgemental of Carlie. From the day she arrived on the coast, she was immediately outcasted. As petty as it was, nicknames were made about her, she wasn't invited to team breakfast trips, or anything for that matter. She was made fun of constantly for really no reason at all. The two simple reasons? Jealousy and insecurities. I will gladly connect the dots for you.

Carlie loves pink. Carlie wears pink socks and shoes for games, she has the superstition that the pink makes her play well. We all have our superstitions. Her team made fun of her in the locker room, snickering and whining about it.


I won't even discuss the nicknames or other nonsense that went on.

So let's leave it at that example because we don't need to write novels on the actual bullying that went on. We'll put it in our book down the road.

You can't make this up. Women around the club were rude to her, ignoring her questions or statements, walking by her without saying hello, nothing outrageous but still noticeable. When I started dating Carlie I thought she was exaggerating. Surely, people don't stoop that low. Yeah, I was wrong on that one.

Things got so bad, Carlie sought professional help before we started dating, because she had no outlet. She didn't feel safe. She was struggling to the point she came in the office one day and handed me a transfer form to leave the team to go play in Melbourne, where she would be treated better. Of course I refused her request because, well you can figure it out based on where we are now.

But through all of this, Carlie's character shined brightly. She only wanted to see the best for those people. She understands people better than anyone I have ever met. She sat there looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm sorry they feel that way about me. But they're only projecting their own issues out. Everyone has issues and if you don't work on them they only build up and take it out on others.'

I remember that day so vividly, I was so blown away by her compassion. There were so many women on the coast who treated her this way, older women who's husbands were involved with the club, peers, members of the community it didn't matter. I mean it blew my mind, but she, to this day, still wants to see the best for those people. I'm a very protective person, and for me, I find it hard to want the best for those people, but over time, Carlie has taught me compassion and acceptance like I have never known.

I think Carlie's favorite thing to do is cook. She loves music and running as well, but when she's cooking she is in another world. This works out for me because the girl can do it all in the kitchen- breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks- and it's all gluten free.

"I love that food can bring people together, everyone connects with food. I love being creative and I find you can be really creative when you're cooking." she said. "I also really like the farmers, they work so hard and do so many great things for us and I like to think it's a way to pay it to them." (I told you about her compassion. I mean who says that?) "It's just an outlet for me and always has been."

The thing about Carlie's cooking though, she's a goddamn whirlwind in there. Sauce is all over the wall, food all over the counter, it gets on her face even sometimes in her hair. Not really sure how we get there, but the end result is a FIRE meal. We have only had one bad meal, that was because the oven broke mid way through, so I guess I'll give her a pass on that one.

The secret talent that Carlie has that no one knows? Art. Paint, sculpture, illustration, whatever you want, she can do. She went to art school in 2012 and earned awards and advanced degrees there.

"I love art and being creative as a whole. I have always loved building things. I find an appreciation of art because theres more than what meets the eye. You can walk through a gallery and everyone could have a different opinion on one piece. There's a story behind everything and art allows us to express and interpret how we want. I originally wanted to help kids through art therapy, so they can use art to distract them from their health treatments, depression and anxiety or whatever else they may be facing. I haven't gone down that path but it's something I would like to do in time."

The thing about Carlie that everyone can agree on? She's bright. Her aura is bright, she is a ball of sunshine the second she walks into a room. She loves bright colors and feels everyone should express themselves and wear what makes them comfortable. For someone who has copped a lot of criticism and judgment, she is still fearlessly open and still brings that bright energy to everyone.

"Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves and that's what's missing in this world. That's why we have bullies and insecurities. When I see people in a flamboyant outfit or doing their thing, it makes me happy. They feel good about themselves and have the confidence to do it and I absolutely love that."

She really wants to see the best for everyone in the world, it always comes back to seeing the world a better place which is my favorite thing about her.

"There's a lot of help out there for us- doctors, psychologists and counsellors. You can get all the tools that you want but at the end of the day it comes down to the individual. We each need to make a choice to be the best person that we can be. There are a lot of hurt and insecure individuals in the world. A lot of times those individuals will hurt others the way they were hurt to feel better about themselves. But life is a journey and what we can accomplish as individuals is incredible. If we make the conscious effort to be the best version of ourselves and not judge others, then the world will become a much brighter happier place."