Talking with A Jewish hoopster in Moraga, via Idaho

Name: Carli Rosenthal
Age: 21
Height: 6-foot-3
Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Position: Forward, Saint Mary’s College women’s basketball team


You played in the Maccabiah Games in Israel last summer, and your U.S. team won the gold by going undefeated. You scored 40 points in five games. What was that like?

Carli Rosenthal: It was cool because it just wasn’t about playing basketball. Sightseeing and going to places in Israel like the Western Wall were amazing experiences. My mom and sister came with me, and it was really cool. I’m so blessed to have had that experience.

I didn’t know any of my teammates until the games started, but we all bonded really fast. There were a couple of girls on the team who didn’t practice Judaism so it was nice to know I wasn’t the only one. A couple of the girls were devout and knew Hebrew, and they taught us some of the holidays, which was really nice. My dad’s dad is Jewish so whenever he’d come visit we’d always celebrate Hanukkah, but I never practiced even though I’ve always identified as a Jewish person.

Carli Rosenthal photo/

J.: Your dad is from New York and your mom grew up in Washington state and settled in Coeur d’Alene on the Idaho panhandle, which is where you grew up. What was it like growing up there?

CR: I didn’t really think it was different than anywhere else until I came to California, but it was very family focused. I’m really close with my mom and dad and sister and brother. My grandma lived next door to us. It was great. We’d always go hiking and do outdoor activities, but when I came to California it was a very different lifestyle. Things are more fast-paced. The freeways have four lanes instead of two. I really like being able to get In-N-Out [hamburgers] whenever I want (laughs). I like the warm weather, too.

J.: You led your high school team to three state titles and were the Idaho player of the year in 2010-11. Why did you choose Saint Mary’s?

CR: I never really considered Saint Mary’s at first, but the coaching staff was amazing and they showed me I could have a successful college career. The size of the school is small, but it’s good to have the one-on-one experience with teachers. If I’m struggling in a class, I can go in during their office hours and get help if I need it. You really become a part of the Saint Mary’s family, which is awesome.

J.: As a star newcomer, you started 64 out of 67 games as a freshman and sophomore, averaging more than five points and rebounds per game. This season, because of a back injury, you’ve missed the last 16 games. Still, your team has an impressive 22-9 record, following a loss to Gonzaga in the conference semifinals, and is hoping for a bid to the women’s NIT for a fifth straight season. What’s the key?

CR: Our team is really close. It’s the closest team I’ve ever played on, and we all know each other so well. We’ve had great chemistry as a team, and if there’s a bump in the road we know we can get through it and finish strong. We trust one another.

J.: Did you always want to be a basketball player?

CR: My grandma played basketball when she went to college, and my mom is a sports nut who played basketball and volleyball in school. I just grew up with a basketball in my hands. It was something I always wanted to do. I used to play soccer but I later focused all of my energy on basketball in high school. It’s what I love.

J.: What do you hope to pursue after you graduate in 2015?

CR: I was thinking sports journalism or public relations, but I really like to organize events and things like that. I’m trying to narrow it down.

“Talking with …” focuses on local Jews who are doing things we find interesting. Send suggestions to [email protected]