Avery Carlson has put her stamp on Blue Pony athletics
The senior has excelled in girls basketball, softball and volleyball over the years
Last updated 3/9/2023 at 8:30am
Over the past three seasons, the Havre High girl's basketball, volleyball and softball teams have reached new levels of success. And Avery Carlson has been a key player in that success.
The most successful of those squads is the HHS girls basketball team, which has won two straight Class A State championships and is gunning for a third this weekend in Bozeman. As she heads into her final state tournament with the Blue Ponies, Carlson is proud of what she has already accomplished during her high school career.
"I feel incredibly blessed. I've been blessed with great coaches, great teammates and great support by the community," Carlson said. "It feels like I can leave here knowing that we leave behind something really special."
Carlson's first state championship with the Ponies' basketball squad came her sophomore season in 2021. She was just a role player on that team, but she learned a lot that has helped her become the player that she is now.
"In my junior and my senior year, I feel like I stepped into a leadership role," Carlson said. "I feel like my teammates have really helped me with that. They've supported me and they've dealt with me when I'm being crazy."
HHS head coach Dustin Kraske has gotten to see firsthand how Carlson has grown throughout the course of her high school career to become one of the best players on a state championship team.
"She learned a lot as a freshman and got beat up in practice every day and took that knowledge and turned it into just a fantastic high school career," Kraske said. "She brings it every day to practice and there aren't any days off. She leads by example and is a competitor. We're blessed to have her as part of our program for the last four years."
In her junior season, Carlson earned All-State honors as she helped the Ponies win their second straight state championship. As she became a better player on the court, she credited everyone who supported her for helping her along the way.
"I've been blessed with a great support system. My parents support me in everything I do," Carlon said. "I also have a great coaching staff that's pushed me to be the best that I can be."
She has continued to play well her senior season, but it has not been easy. Earlier in the season, Carlson suffered an ankle injury and had to miss three games. Carlson eventually returned, but missing games for the first time in her career was tough for her.
"It taught me a lot about appreciating what you're doing when you're doing it," Carlson said.
Since she returned to the court, Carlson has continued to be an impact player for the Ponies. This season, she is averaging 10.3 points a game on 40.9 percent shooting from the field and 68 shooting from the free-throw line.
While the season is not over yet, the Ponies have had another dominant year of basketball so far. They finished the year undefeated in the Northeast A and they hold a 17-4 record heading into the state tournament. The Ponies just won the Eastern A Divisional, a feat that had eluded Carlson and the Ponies the past few seasons.
Of course, basketball is not the only sport that Carlson has been successful in for the Ponies. These past two seasons, Carlson helped the HHS volleyball team finish second in back-to-back state tournaments. In her senior season, she earned All-State honors.
In the spring, Carlson plays softball for the Ponies. In her junior season in 2022, she helped the Ponies win their first Eastern A Divisional. In these past two seasons, Carlson has earned All-State honors in softball. While she picked up plenty of individual accolades during her career, nothing meant more to her than winning alongside her teammates across all these different sports.
"The most rewarding aspect is being able to win those big games," Carlson said. "Winning those big games is everything that you've worked for manifesting into that one win and it's just great."
Along with getting to coach her in basketball, Kraske has enjoyed seeing her succeed in her other sports over the course of her career.
"How wonderful it is for us as fans of Havre High to watch a kid like her put on the uniform and compete for us," Kraske said. "Just to bring her best every day for multiple practices in multiple sports is just a real privilege for all of us to watch."
Carlson's success should be no surprise to anyone paying attention. Carlson comes from a family that prides itself on athletics as both her parents played sports at Montana State University-Northern. Her father played basketball throughout college while her mother mostly played volleyball but also played basketball for a little while. Following in her parents' footsteps, Carlson looked to follow their example.
"My parents are very hardworking people. Whatever they put their mind to, they accomplish it," Carlson said. "They've definitely been major role models for me."
When she grew up, it was not hard for Carlson to find herself involved in athletics. Along with following in the footsteps of her parents, Carlson had a drive to prove that she was among the best of the best.
"I've always had a very competitive spirit," Carlon said. "I love competing, I love being around a team. I just think team sports teach you something that nothing else can. They're so unique in what they can teach you."
Carlson's competitiveness led her to putting in the time throughout the year to become the best player that she could possibly be. During the summer, she would find herself practicing basketball and volleyball in the open gym. Then of course during the season, she focuses solely on the sport she is playing.
Through sports is how Carlson has excelled in other areas of life. She has made all her friends on her teams throughout her career. Even though sports takes up much of her time, it also fuels her academics.
"When I'm playing a sport, I'm more motivated to do my schoolwork because its like another competition," Carlson said. "How good of a grade can I get on this test? How much can I retain? How much knowledge can I retain? It's the same premise that I apply to my schoolwork."
Once she is done with high school, Carlson plans on attending college and hopes to play basketball at the next level. If she is not able to play collegiate basketball, Carlson would play intramural sports at the gym. For college, Carlson wants to study something in STEM or go into health care. Whatever she decides to go into, her competitive spirit is sure to drive her.
"It would push me to be the best in whatever I'm doing so I hope that I will help my community and those around me," Carlson said.
But for now, Carlson is looking to finish her Pony career on a high note. The Ponies are heading into this weekend's state tournament looking to win a third straight state championship. While she will be looking to cap off her career the best way possible, Carlson will be proud of what she and the Ponies have already accomplished over the years and this season.
"All I want for this team is to be the best that they can be at the state tournament," Carlson said. "If that means winning the state championship, that's awesome but what we've done so far has impressed me so much."