Players with Carson Roney’s skillset will always be commodities for any program.
However, athletes with Roney’s size and versatility, in addition to a great skillset, are extremely rare.
During the 2019-20 season, Roney closed the season by playing the best basketball of her college career, scoring in double-figures in nine out of her last 12 games and averaging 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds during the Mid-South Conference Tournament to help lead SSU to its fifth MSC Championship in six seasons.
Happy, but not satisfied, with that production, it’s clear that Roney wants more.
Now a senior leader alongside fellow local product Hagen Schaefer, and one of three All-MSC talents back from the 2019-20 version of the squad that went 29-4 and won nine games decided by single-digits, Roney wants to not only sustain, but build on the success that last year’s unit obtained after SSU won 11 out of its last 12 games to claim the MSC Tournament crown.
“It’s very exciting,” Roney said. “We had a young group of girls last year and we do so again this year, so it’s mine, Hagen Schaefer’s, Brandie (Snow)’s and AP’s (Anyia Pride’s) job to step up and be leaders on this team. Bailey Cummins and Sydney King aren’t here this year, so we have a lot of shoes to fill as we look to pick up where we left off last season.”
At Eastern Local High School — referenced locally as Eastern Pike — Roney dominated the competition in both volleyball and basketball. During her junior and senior seasons alone in the former sport, Roney notched 699 kills on a .398 attack percentage while adding in 601 service receptions, 529 digs and 143 total blocks between the two seasons.
She notched 394 kills, a .421 hitting percentage and 69 solo blocks in her senior season alone to lead Eastern to an 18-6 overall record in her senior season despite Eastern losing five of their six starters — with only Roney coming back — from the previous season after finishing 25-3 during the 2014 campaign.
These performances followed an outstanding 27-1 season in Roney’s freshman year, where the Eagles advanced to the OHSAA Final Four in 2012 in Roney’s first season as a high school athlete.
“I was terrified,” Roney said of her first appearance at the state stage. “We went all the way to the OHSAA Final Four, and we lost there. That experience was very nervewracking, and I played a lot of minutes in that game. It was exciting and a great experience. Then after that, we made it to regionals every year in volleyball. Getting that far was a must. We knew it wasn’t promised, but we knew that we had to get there and be ready. We knew that we had to do it.”
On the basketball court, the stories surrounding Roney reach mythical proportions, but her play — that to the tune of an outstanding 28.3 points and 14 rebounds per game as a senior — will do that. The senior, who was named as a Division IV Special Mention All-Ohio honoree in her sophomore and junior seasons, made a drastic jump to First-Team All-Ohio honors behind those averages. She closed out her career with a 46-point, 16-rebound barrage against Bainbridge Paint Valley in the Division IV Sectional Semifinals.
“Being able to play two sports in high school was really big for me,” Roney said. “Not a lot of people at my school played two sports, then went to college and played both of those sports. At the time, I didn’t see it as a big deal, because I was always so busy and could never figure out which sport that I wanted to focus on.”
During her freshman year, Roney joined a stacked women’s basketball program that ultimately, with Roney’s help, went 31-3 overall en route to claiming its second straight Mid-South Conference crown, its third consecutive MSC Tournament Championship, and a No. 3 overall ranking.
However, after averaging 3.8 points and 1.8 rebounds on 54.5 percent shooting for the loaded group, Roney decided that she wasn’t ready to stop spiking just yet.
In 2017 and 2018, Roney returned to the volleyball court for Shawnee State and immediately made an impact, notching 148 kills and 41 total blocks in an abbreviated first year with the SSU volleyball program and notching a fantastic 305-kill, 131-block effort the following year. She was named as a Second-Team All-MSC honoree as a result in the latter campaign.
However, with the opportunity to make an impact in Jeff Nickel’s lineup for the 2019-20 season, Roney made the transition back to basketball and immediately delivered.
Despite missing six weeks of time during the latter portion of the preseason, and the first five games of the regular season due to injury, Roney made a big impact, notching 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds to finish fourth on the team in scoring and second on the squad in rebounding.
“When I got to college, I still couldn’t decide on a sport. Looking back on it now, it’s been great being a multi-dimensional athlete and I feel like it helped me in both sports. It also helped me decide what I wanted to do to be able to go to a small school, and have the coaches that I did.”
Her 14-point, 12-rebound, three-steal outing against Wilmington proved to be her coming out party, and following that, the junior posted 12 double-figure scoring outings in her final 19 contests. Included in that run? Four double-doubles, which helped solidify Shawnee State’s frontcourt and lead the Bears to victories in 11 of their last 12 affairs en route to the MSC Tournament Championship.
“I figured out what I was doing and what I needed to do, and got comfortable with my position,” Roney said. “I knew that I could benefit and help our team a lot, so I just tried to figure out how to do that in the best manner possible in order to keep winning games.”
For her ability to stay on track not only athletically, but academically — as her 3.23 GPA and her over 110 credit hours suggest — Roney credits her older sister Cassidy, for being not only the ideal sister, but a motherly figure as well. The elder Roney is in her second season coaching the Notre Dame High School volleyball program in Portsmouth, and has helped lead the Titans to a 36-8 overall record with two OHSAA Division IV Sectional Championships and a Division IV District Championship in her first season coaching in 2019.
“From a living standpoint, we never split apart until last year,” Roney said. “I lived with her my entire life. She’s been a Mom to me. I’ve looked up to her for everything. She’s helped me through everything. She tells me when I’m doing wrong, she keeps me out of trouble, things like that. It’s definitely like that on the court too,” Roney said. “She’s had no problem telling me, ‘Pick it up. You suck. You got to do this, fix this.’ I’ve definitely looked up to her, and seeing what she is doing now is amazing to see her and her team succeed. It’s awesome seeing what she does for the community and what she does for Notre Dame.”
Along with her skills as an athlete as well as in the classroom, Roney has become a social media star. Her TikTok account has 1,400,000 followers with her videos on the platform garnering a total of 39,900,000 likes. She also has 134,000 Instagram followers to boot.
“During the summer, I had a lot of free time, so it was just doing whatever came to mind that day,” Roney said. “Now, it’s basketball season. Basketball comes first. Honestly, whenever I have time, it’s more just entertainment on the side. It’s not really my main priority right now — just whatever’s trending and whatever people are into.”
In her time at Shawnee State, Carson Roney’s accomplished a great deal. She’s become a Second-Team All-MSC honoree in two different sport. She’s won two conference championship trophies with the women’s basketball program. She’s become a social media icon. Last, but not least, she’s well on her way to a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
What else would make the journey whole and full-circle? A national championship, of course.
“We want to win a regular season and conference championship,” Roney said. “The MSC Regular Season title got taken from us last year, because we didn’t come in, show up, and do what we needed to do. We definitely need to do what we didn’t do last year, and win both the regular season and conference championships this year. We can get to the national tournament and give ourselves a chance to do what we didn’t get to accomplish because of COVID last year - — a national championship.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.