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Carlson family gears up for basketball season

Brother, sister, and mom all serve active roles in boys and girls programs

Chemistry+teacher+and+coach+Heather+Carlson+plays+basketball+with+junior+son+Brendan+and+freshman+daughter+Alli.
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Carlson family gears up for basketball season

Chemistry teacher and coach Heather Carlson plays basketball with junior son Brendan and freshman daughter Alli.

Chemistry teacher and coach Heather Carlson plays basketball with junior son Brendan and freshman daughter Alli.

Ben Alter

Chemistry teacher and coach Heather Carlson plays basketball with junior son Brendan and freshman daughter Alli.

Ben Alter

Ben Alter

Chemistry teacher and coach Heather Carlson plays basketball with junior son Brendan and freshman daughter Alli.

Whether Coach Heather Carlson is your teacher, coach, or colleague, or maybe Brendan or Alli Carlson are your classmates, you likely know that the Carlson family is a basketball family.

Heather Carlson spends her hours from 7:40 am to 3:00 pm as a chemistry teacher at East Grand Rapids High School, but she also coaches the Girls JV Basketball team. Her interest in basketball, just like chemistry, began when she was in high school.

“I started playing basketball in 10th grade when I was forced. But then I loved playing from the minute I started,” Coach Carlson said.

After falling in love with the sport, she decided to continue to play in college, at Lake Superior State University.

“I ended up playing in college, which is where I met my husband. He played on the men’s team and I played on the women’s team, which is probably why we became a basketball family,” Coach Carlson said.

Her kids, Alli Carlson ‘22 and Brendan Carlson ‘20, grew up on the courts.

“We started coaching them when they were little after they showed an interest in it. They played other sports too when they were younger, but now they mostly play basketball,” Heather Carlson said.

“My husband coached my son when he was younger,” Heather Carlson said. And although she didn’t expect too, Carlson ended up coaching her daughter here at the high school, when she began teaching in 2016.

“When I left Cedar Springs, I planned on being done [coaching] so that I could watch my kids play. But as soon as I got the job, I got a phone call asking if I could coach the JV girls,” Coach Carlson said.

Now that she is coaching her daughter, Coach Carlson has to balance the roles of coach and parent, even though her daughter is on Varsity and Coach Carlson coaches JV.

“It is a weird situation to navigate — me being on the coaching staff and her being on the team,” Coach Carlson said. “I try to be hands-off with her now because I coached her for so long growing up. I try to look at her through a coach’s lens every time we are on the court or in the locker room, and not through a parent’s lens. I try not to give her tips unless she asks.”

From the perspective of Coach Carlson’s daughter, Alli is impartial to the idea of her mom being on the coaching staff.

“I don’t really mind at all, she is helpful,” Alli Carlson said.

Coach Carlson’s favorite thing about coaching the team in general, is “watching the girls improve,” she said. “I also like seeing them both on the court and off the court, because I end up having a lot of them in my classroom.”

For the Carlson family, playing, watching, or even just talking about basketball together is not an uncommon thing as they all have a passion for the sport.

“Basketball is something we all enjoy. We have that in common. It has just been what we’ve done since [my kids] were little,” Coach Carlson said.

Alli agrees with her mom that having basketball in common is a good thing in their family.

“I like having basketball be a sport my whole family does because it is something we can do together and it is always something to talk about,” Alli Carlson said.

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Carlson family gears up for basketball season