When Carl Albert's Gioya Carter sat down with her dad and Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale following the Sooners' win over Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2012, she didn't know what was coming.
“We would be honored to have you wear an Oklahoma jersey,” Coale said during the meeting.
The tears started flowing immediately.
First, from her dad, Harry Carter.
“That was a dream come true for her,” Harry said. “That's what she'd been working toward.”
Then Gioya welled up.
“Timeout,” Coale asked. “Is that a yes?”
There was never any doubt.
Carter decided when she was about 10 that she was going to be a Sooner.
She just needed to convince OU's coaches.
“We took her to the baseline bashes and camps when she was in fourth grade and that's when she said, ‘Daddy, I'm going to be a Sooner,” Harry said.
Harry didn't tell his daughter that's what was going to happen. But he didn't discourage her either.
“I told her what it would take for her to make that happen,” he said. “And that's what she started doing.”
Harry was her first coach.
“He was hard,” Carter said. “I think that's why I'm so hard on myself. He pushed me.
“During those practices, I thought I was never going to get out of there. He used to run us all the time. If I made a bad grade in school, I knew I was going to be running. It wasn't just court stuff.”
Harry grew up an OU fan, falling in love with the Sooners during the 1969 season.
“He could probably tell you every name of every football player that's ever come through OU,” Gioya said. “He's a fanatic.”
Gioya started off at Windsor Hills Baptist, going to the school through eighth grade.
But when Harry lost his job, the family needed Gioya to go to a public school.
The family considered Midwest City and others, but there was something about the way Tim Price coached that drew them toward Carl Albert.
“I knew she'd learn the game of basketball from him,” Harry said. “I tell you, it's been a blessing. He's taken Gioya a long way.”
That admiration is mutual.
Gioya had played summer ball with one of Price's players.
“When she joined the team that summer, we went to the OU team camp and right then you could tell she was going to be something special,” Price said. “I've been fortunate to coach some really good players but it's very, very rare that you find somebody this talented that is this humble and has been brought up the way she has.
Noble at Class 5A No. 4 Carl Albert
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Carl Albert High School
Noteworthy: The Titans have won five games in a row, including three consecutive games last week to win the Titan Classic. ... Carl Albert beat Guthrie on Tuesday 50-49. ... Noble lost to Piedmont, 74-33. ... The game will be the final considered for seeding purposes for the teams. Playoff brackets for 6A and 5A will be released Feb. 7.