Growing up, College of Charleston alumna Kelli Garrett ’89 had always dreamed of playing basketball for the University of South Carolina. Her dad played football for the Gamecocks, and she spent summers during her childhood participating in basketball camps at the university in Columbia, South Carolina.
Her senior year of high school she received about 400 letters from other colleges, which she didn’t even bother to open because she knew she was headed to the University of South Carolina. The universe had other plans for Garrett, however. And, looking back 30 years later, she can’t imagine it any other way.
“After that first year at the College of Charleston, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be,” she says.
Today, Garrett holds the record as the all-time leading scorer for women’s basketball at CofC, with 1,886 career points in the College’s history. She was a four-time All American and was inducted into the College’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. Garrett’s success on the court translated to success in her career as an entrepreneur, which allows her to give back to the women’s basketball team with money and time.
“They gave so much to us, why wouldn’t we give back to the team?” asks Garrett.
Garrett makes the effort to go to as many games as she can and recently purchased a shooting machine for the team.
“We wished we had had that when we were growing up. Back then, when you would shoot and it would go down the hill, you’d have to go get it! I could have shot 5 million more shots with that,” she jokes.
Garrett’s loyalty to the team has never wavered, and this season she’s worked with new women’s basketball head coach Robin Harmony about ways to connect with alumni.
“My job is to say, ‘I’m here to do whatever you need me to do,’” says Garrett of her support for the women’s basketball team.
And her efforts are very much appreciated.
“The success Kelli Garrett’s had on the court is no secret. She is a staple here at the College of Charleston, and the fact that she has continued to support her alma mater means so much to us, the women’s basketball program and the College,” says Harmony. “As a new staff, we are so grateful for her continued support for us and our team. We’re looking to continue to improve and make an impact in the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association]. So far this year, I think we’ve surprised some people and shown that we have the talent to do so. We just need to keep getting better and stay focused on making this a program that our current players, the College and our alumni can be proud of.”
As a successful entrepreneur, one of the things Garret, who owns Carolina Cotton Candy, enjoys doing is talking to the young women on the team. She feels it’s important as an alumna of the College to stay connected.
Her advice for supporting the Cougars: “If you can’t give money, come to the games and bring your daughter, or granddaughter.”
The women’s basketball team (13-14, 6-10) will play its last games of the season on the road, taking on Delaware on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at 7 p.m. and followed by Drexel on Saturday, March 7, at 1 p.m.