By Laura Amato
Kayla Charles is just trying to take everything in stride.
The former William C. Bryant basketball standout has had a whirlwind summer, settling into the swing of college life as she preps for her first season at St. John’s University. It’s been a distinct work in progress for Charles, but the 6-foot-3 forward has done her best to keep her eyes on the prize.
“I think it’s been pretty good so far,” Charles said. “It’s a big transition from being out and doing nothing to having to go to school and play ball at the same time. It’s all about balancing that. You have to balance both and you can’t slack off in either one.”
The biggest challenge for Charles isn’t on the court. She’s wading into uncharted waters, particularly when it comes to balancing a schedule that is suddenly chock-full of practices, workouts and classes.
She’s done her best to stay focused, but Charles is the first to admit that it’s been a bit of a wake-up call and distinctly different from her high school experiences.
“It was a big eye-opener, but it’s a big transition from what you’re used to in high school to what’s the deal in college,” Charles said. “It’s a big leap. I’m a little nervous, because you don’t really know what to expect.”
Of course, Charles has plenty of reason to feel confident on the court. She boasts some serious size in the post and is fresh off a dominant senior season, averaging a double-double every game, including two postseason performances.
The road to St. John’s, however, hasn’t been easy for Charles. She spent three seasons at Far Rockaway before transferring to Bryant and the decision to switch up squads just before her senior year wasn’t a simple one.
“I could have transferred multiple times during the three years I was at Far Rockaway, but I chose not to,” Charles said. “I wanted to stay home. But I knew if I wanted a better opportunity, I had to make that transition.”
Charles’ success at the high school level — no matter who she was suiting up for — has helped spark her game with the Red Storm this summer and despite her initial nerves, she’s done her best to bring her A-game in every single practice.
After all, she’s used to a pretty impressive stat line.
I want to get better in every area I possibly can to make a big contribution to the team,” said Charles, who hauled in 10.36 rebounds during the regular season last year. “I just have to work on boxing out and become the strongest player I can, especially on girls that are bigger than me.”
Charles considered several different offers, even a handful of Division II looks, before landing on St. John’s. Her decision was based solely on the future. She’s set to major in criminal justice this fall, with the hope of one day joining the FBI.
For now, she’s ready to settle for double-digit rebounds and helping her brand-new team win as many games as possible.
It’s been an eye-opening experience, but Charles wouldn’t change a moment. She’s ready for whatever comes next.
“Coming into college you have structure and you have certain things at certain times and you have to work on certain things,” she said. “You just have to push. It’s a little excited, a little nervous, but I’m ready.”