Athletics Alumni Spotlight

Gary Carthan, Men's Basketball


Gary Carthan played basketball at MCCC in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 and is an example of sticking with both school and sports.  Carthan was a member of the last men’s basketball team to qualify for the NJCAA Division II National Championship.  In his second season with the Vikings, Carthan earned 2 nd Team All-Region 19 and All-GSAC (Garden State Athletic Conference) Honors. 


Carthan continued taking classes at MCCC from 2009 until he graduated in May 2015 with his Associates in Exercise Science.  He then transferred to Rowan University.  Despite not playing since 2010-2011, Carthan walked on to the men’s basketball team in 2015-2016 and played in all 25 of Rowan’s game that season and then started all 27 games his senior year.  Carthan graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science in May 2018.


Carthan shared his long journey, beginning at how he ended up at MCCC and eventually at Rowan and now teaching at Bordentown.  Carthan is currently a Teacher’s Aide at Bordentown Regional Middle School and Head Coach of Bordentown Regional High School JV Boy’s Basketball.


“My time at MCCC was definitely an experience. I would’ve never thought I would be able to play on the college level because of my learning disabilities and difficulty remembering plays.  I was also at a disadvantage coming out of high school because I didn’t take any SAT’s, ACT’s and I took all basic skills classes in high school.” 


Carthan chose to stay local and is glad he did. “I was a home body so if I went to a University right out of high school, I most likely would’ve dropped out. Going this route to MCCC gave me a chance to build myself not only on the court but academically. The professors took the time to work with me and gave me tips to help me study and it became a habit. I got stronger with each semester even with failing multiple times.  This got me stronger and I learned the gift of perseverance and that carried me over when I got to Rowan University.”


Once the decision to go to MCCC was made, the playing basketball part remained uncertain for Carthan. “MCCC basketball was by faith and chance. I wasn’t recruited right off the bat. I was actually helping my sister’s AAU basketball team and the coach Ed Fitzpatrick helped me get in contact with then MCCC assistant men’s soccer coach Larry Povia.  Povia put in a good word for me and got in contact with assistant men’s basketball coach Tom DeStefano. Once I talked to coach Tom he told me to come to the open gym the team was having. I didn’t expect Head Coach Howard Levy to be there. Once I got on the court the coaches told me don’t lose. I kept up my end of the deal and didn’t lose a game and played the best basketball I ever played.  Once I was finished they gave me the last spot on the team that day and the rest was history”


Much like his opportunity to play basketball happened by chance, Carthan’s job with Bordentown’s school district happened by chance.  “To be honest, I was never interested in teaching. The job kind of just fell into my lap. I was walking a kid over to the high school to the head supervisor for Special Services and he said you’re very good kids do you want a job to in the district. I was already working the after school program part so I figured why not work at the school full time. I went through the interview process and I got the job.”


Carthan was interested in coaching before teaching.  “After I finished my last year at Rowan, I was missing basketball so much.  I wanted to fill the void and that’s when I went back to coaching. I also wanted to give back to the town that gave me everything in life to succeed. I decided to branch on my own and became the JV coach at my alma mater and fell in love with coaching.”  Prior to becoming JV Coach for the boy’s team at Bordentown, Carthan helped his father with the girls’ team at Bordentown.


When asked what he likes most about his job, Carthan likes the unpredictability of each day along with the opportunity to help students.  “Whether it’s coaching, being a teacher’s aide or after school counselor, every day is a different. There are new challenges with all different grades and ages. Helping kids in this day in age is something I take pride in. The kids are comfortable coming to me asking for advice not only in sports but in life in general.”


Another thing Carthan enjoys about his work is something called RAPS, which stands for Respect, Accountability, Pride and Safety. “It’s when if we catch a kid doing an act of kindness by helping another student or teachers or having pride in the school, then we give them a RAPS tickets. The winners from each grade get announced in the morning. At the end of year we do a Reverse RAPS tickets where the students give these tickets to the staff members. I ended up getting 32 tickets from students in 6th-8th grade and they wrote special messages to me. That’s when I knew I was making an impact in their lives and that was important to me.”



When asked what his favorite memory was from playing at MCCC, Carthan recalls hitting what he calls “the biggest shot in my life at the Region 19 Championship at Lackawanna and going on to win the championship my freshman year.”  He also remembers working hard to return from a shoulder injury suffered during his sophomore year. “I missed six games during the regular season with a shoulder injury but was able to tough it out for playoffs.  My shoulder is still paying for it today, but I would do all over again because I wanted it that much.” 



Carthan was asked what led him to stick to classes after several years at Mercer and then continue to play collegiate basketball years after last playing at Mercer. “I wanted to change the narrative for kids with disabilities that you can make it to college and achieve your dreams. At one point I lost focus of that. I started partying and drinking hard and not caring about school.  The kids I was working with told me I should go back to school and play basketball. I had unfinished business and I knew my story had a different ending. I had kids counting on me to make it and be that example.” 


Based on sticking it out at MCCC, Carthan knew he could succeed at Rowan too.  “Everything I had to go through at MCCC prepared for the next chapter of my life. Once I got to Rowan I was a complete person and I was ready. I ended up walking on to the team at Rowan at age 24 and not only that but I played every game my junior year and started every game my senior year. I helped to show that transfers can have success at the next level. By learning the gift of perseverance at MCCC I was able to succeed at Rowan University and in life. But I give all the credit to my lord and savior Jesus Christ.”


Carthan’s perserverance and story show it’s never too late to pursue your education or your dream.