“At the highest level, talent isn't enough,” says TB12 Foxboro’s Head Body Coach James Castrello.
“Eventually you get to a point where your talent only takes you so far—where everybody is just as talented as you. And it’s everything else that you are willing to do that will separate you from the pack, from being the sixth person on the bench to the starting five. The margin of separation at that level is tiny—so your nutrition, your hydration, how you approach rest and recovery, taking the time to watch film back, all make a big difference.”
James Castrello met UConn Women’s Basketball Freshman Guard Caroline Ducharme when she was going into her freshman year of high school. Caroline comes from a basketball family—her parents both played college ball and her older sister plays for Brown University. Caroline was referred to TB12 by a friend after she suffered a serious ACL tear, and it was the TB12 Foundation scholarship program that supported her initial recovery from the injury.
Recovering from an ACL injury is complex, but at TB12 it is always our goal to do more than just recover from an injury, but to come back a better athlete than you were before. Although Caroline was only in the 8th grade when she first entered TB12’s doors, she had high ambitions for her basketball career, and bouncing back from her injury as quickly as possible was the highest priority.
James and Caroline worked hard from the start of her surgery to her return to the court that following season. They worked together two or three times a week and slowly helped her get back into her stride and help her stay strong and focused mentally. Injuries can be mentally defeating, but James praises Caroline as one of the most mentally strong and resilient athletes he works with. After her ACL injury healed, Caroline returned to the court and played in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) where she suffered a labrum tear in her shoulder which again required surgery. Obviously another surgery was not ideal, but regardless of her injuries, Caroline was determined to return to the court, and return as a stronger and more aggressive player. James and Caroline worked together again while she recovered, working to build back the strength in the muscles and used sport specific training to help her up her game and prevent injuries in the future.
Through it all, Caroline had the support of her teammates on the court, but also had a teammate in Foxboro with James—who ensured an injury would not be the end of her basketball career. James continues to be her teammate, her Body Coach, and most importantly one of her biggest fans.
“Caroline is one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever worked with who is as humble as she is. She’s one of the best players in the country, but when you sit down and talk with her, it’s never about her, never about her accomplishments. It’s always about the team, always about family. Always about how she can get better,” says James.
Caroline constantly challenged herself to be better, to play more competitively. She never wanted to be the best in the room, and continually moved to play in more and more competitive leagues throughout high school because she wanted to play with and against the best of the best. She knew that was imperative for her development as a player. “She got comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says James. Caroline’s high school social life was consumed by basketball, she traveled to New York City every weekend to play—some kids say they want to be the best, but Caroline walked the walk, she put in the time, she made the sacrifices. And the results came.
When Caroline’s junior and senior year rolled around and college recruiting ramped up, James knew Caroline would be high on the list for the top women’s basketball programs. And she was—Caroline received offers from all of the major programs before committing to UConn, currently the #1 program in the Big East. “It’s almost an indescribable feeling to help someone along on that journey, to watch her perverse no matter the trials and the obstacles,” reflects James. Watching his high school clients sign their letter of intents, receiving this clear and unequivocal recognition of their talent and efforts, is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. James is both proud and honored to be part of Caroline’s journey, but emphasizes that her successes are because of her hard work, her dedication and sacrifice.
Caroline’s freshman year at UConn is off to a stellar start—she’s scored a total of 280 points (and counting!) this season and plays up to 40 minutes a game. Even with an injury that sidelined Caroline temporarily, she has her TB12 winning mindset and stays focused on the end goal. With March Madness kicking off this week, we at TB12 are excited to watch Caroline and UConn women’s basketball continue to dominate!
And James’ advice for high school athletes thinking about going for college sports? “You need to make sure your sport is something you are truly willing, committed, and disciplined enough to do,” James advises. Whether you’re an aspiring college athlete or just simply looking to up your game and live pain-free, our TB12 Body Coaches can help get you there. Make an appointment at one of our TB12 Performance and Recovery Centers and Keep Going!