In a recent conversation with former Central Falls basketball standout Rob Alers, he was asked the whereabouts of fellow C.F. alumnus and his roommate at Lyndon State, George Carle.
With immediate confidence â€“ the kind that comes when youâ€™re pretty sure about something â€“ Alers ventured a guess as to his good friendâ€™s location on the Vermont-based campus.
â€śHeâ€™s probably in the gym as we speak,â€ť was what Alersâ€™ senses were telling him.
Such an assertion on the part of Alers is a telling sign as to the depth of Carleâ€™s level of commitment these days. The offseason is barely a month old, but next year, Carleâ€™s final year of athletic eligibility at Lyndon State, is already on his brain.
â€śI want to play my last year and finish what I started,â€ť Carle stated when reached recently at Lyndonville, Vt., home of the Division III Hornets.
Finishing what Carle started is a fitting mantra for this versatile 6-foot-3 forward. For this is a 22-year-old who has been tested at seemingly every turn, beginning with a housing mix-up three years ago that forced him, Alers and Antonio Mena, another hoopster with ties to Central Falls, to withdraw from Lyndon State.
â€śI really didnâ€™t have any place to stay on campus so I was sleeping on my friendâ€™s floor,â€ť Carle recalled.
One would think Carleâ€™s return to the hinterlands of Vermont for the 2012-13 season would signal the storyâ€™s conclusion, the focus instead shifting to his on-court feats for the Hornets. As a junior last year, Carle ranked second in scoring (12.4 ppg), first in rebounding (a hair under eight per contest) and second in minutes (30.7) while starting all 27 games.
â€śHe was one of the better players in our league,â€ť expressed Lyndon State head coach Joe Krupinski.
If only his life was that simple and featured the following text in his bio â€“ â€śGeorge Carle returned to the hardwood for the Hornets after sitting out the 2011-12 season.â€ť The path placed at Carleâ€™s feet has been far from straight and stress-free, however.
â€śItâ€™s been a long road for him,â€ť states Krupinski.
Carle was still trying to make sense of his hiatus from Lyndon State when his girlfriend, Cynthia Cano, announced she was pregnant. A son named Jacobb George Carle soon entered the world, his arrival meaning a host of new responsibilities for the first-time dad.
â€śI wanted to be around to help her out,â€ť George Carle said.
He did just that. Carle scrounged up as much part-time work as possible while taking classes at CCRI. One of the jobs was at a temp agency.
All the while, he kept coming back to his creed â€“ finishing what he started. While the demands of fatherhood kept the proud dad on his toes, George thirsted for more in terms of a better life for his son and girlfriend.
The only way to make progress on that front was to once more enroll as a fulltime student. Of course, with an infant son to provide for, itâ€™s not nearly as simple as packing up and heading north.
â€śI didnâ€™t want my girlfriend to think I was leaving her with all the responsibilities,â€ť Carle noted. â€śRight now sheâ€™s my biggest supporter. At first she didnâ€™t really agree (with the decision to return to Lyndon). She thought I should be back home.â€ť
Eventually, Cynthia warmed up to her boyfriendâ€™s plan and vision.
â€śShe encouraged me to finish. Sheâ€™s one of the people who helps me keep a level head,â€ť Carle said.
Re-enrolling at Lyndon State was made less complicated due to Carleâ€™s brother and current Lyndon State sophomore guard Christian Brandon also joining him in school. That resulted in the family receiving a break in tuition. Credit-wise, Carle was in good standing and retained three years of eligibility. Perhaps more importantly, he had a spot to live on campus.
The only issue left to settle was whether Carle would be permitted to start the season with Krupinskiâ€™s Hornets or have to sit out for a stretch. Though he could practice with the team, Carle had to wait until January before he could step onto the floor in an official capacity.
â€śI ended up getting a 3.0 (the semester Carle watched from the sidelines) so I was good to go,â€ť Carle proudly shared.
Added Krupinski, â€śIt was an academic situation at the time, but George worked through it and did well.â€ť
Then came the next hurdle. With everything Carle had going on in his life, basketball was forced to take a backseat. Itâ€™s not as though he forgot how to put the ball in the hoop, though he openly admitted that it took some time to knock off the rust and get back into basketball shape.
â€śIt took me a little while to get my wind back and find out where I fit,â€ť Carle said. â€śComing into the second semester, I didnâ€™t want to step on anyoneâ€™s toes.â€ť
Krupinski saw that Carle could help Lyndon State right away, hence why the mentor had no qualms about sliding Carle into the starting lineup once his eligibility concerns were laid to rest. Carleâ€™s first official game in his second go-around with the Hornets was Jan. 4, 2013, an eight-point, 10-rebound performance in 25 minutes.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t brand new to him,â€ť Krupinski noted.
An extra spring in Carleâ€™s step was provided when Krupinski anointed him the Hornetsâ€™ small forward. Dating back to his days at Central Falls High, Carle featured a nice 15-17 foot jumper. His range has since been expanded to the three-point line.
â€śI didnâ€™t mind playing down low, but I felt my game extended further,â€ť Carle said.
More good news fell into Carleâ€™s lap when he learned Alers was returning to Lyndon State. Alers spent the 2012-13 campaign playing basketball and going to school at CCRI.
â€śI was one of the main dudes trying to tell him to come back,â€ť said Carle about the saleâ€™s pitch he gave Alers. â€śIt was getting lonely up here.â€ť
Carle was given explicit instructions prior to the 2013 season tipping off. It went with the territory of being the only returning starter for the Hornets, who went on to capture 12 league games and advance to the semifinals of the North Atlantic Conference tournament.
â€ś(The coaching staff) put a lot of pressure on me to get 16-17 points per night. For the first few weeks, I was averaging 19 points and had the green light whenever coach wanted me to get a bucket,â€ť Carle said. â€śOnce we all started to mesh with one another, we became a more balanced unit.â€ť
Said Krupinski, â€śAs a captain, he was one of the guys was looked to as a leader. Heâ€™s been one of our success stories up here.â€ť
As one of the taller players in the five-guard lineup Lyndon State employed, Carle was asked to perform what is commonly referred to as â€śthe dirty work.â€ť As a clue as what that means, he averaged nearly one block per outing.
â€śI got my vertical back and ended up blocking and altering shots that I wasnâ€™t prior to this season,â€ť he said.
While studies and basketball dominated the bulk of Carleâ€™s day-to-day duties, his girlfriend and son back in Pawtucket remained constantly in his thoughts. Cynthia and Jacobb were able to come up for a few games. Now that this season is over, Carle is able to head home on weekends and make up for lost time.
â€śItâ€™s definitely tough during the season,â€ť Carle quietly stated when asked about the interaction he had with his son during the basketball season.
Separation anxiety might not be an issue for too much longer. Currently the wheels are in motion for George, Cynthia and Jacobb, who turns two this year, to find an off-campus apartment for Georgeâ€™s senior year.
â€śFor one year (Cynthia) is willing to do it,â€ť said Carle about the prospect of having his girlfriend and son under the same roof.
Carle remains on track to complete his undergraduate requirements in exercise science. He hopes the degree he earns next year will open the door to become a professional trainer with an emphasis on lending a hand to up-and-coming basketball prodigies.
â€śI want to stay around the game,â€ť he says.
The Central Falls native admits heâ€™s in a much better spot today than he was three short years ago when his departure from Lyndon State set off a chain reaction that would test his moral compass. Alers agrees.
â€śHeâ€™s just doing what he can to make his family proud,â€ť Alers said while his pal Carle was undoubtedly toiling away in the campus gym. â€śHeâ€™s got a lot of priorities, but it just motivates him even more knowing that you have someone to look after.â€ť
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