Coach Sydney Carter Breaks Down Her Biggest Style Inspirations, the Joys of Owning a Dog, and the Importance of Being Yourself

When it comes to the most-loved features on Spotify, personalization tops many users’ lists. Through Spotify playlists like Discover Weekly and Daylist, editorially curated standouts like Fresh Finds, and new playlist-enhancing features like Smart Shuffle and Jam, we love helping listeners discover something new. And our listeners’ thirst for auditory adventures continues to grow, with nearly 2 billion music discoveries happening on Spotify daily.

Creators around the world also love discovery and turn on their fans to favorite playlists, products, and people. In For the Record’s ongoing Discovery Monday series, we connect with content creators and pick their brains about recent finds, whether it’s new music, podcasts, TV, food, beauty, technology, or fashion.

This month, we’re talking to basketball coach extraordinaire Sydney Carter. After reaching the highest levels of the game as a player, Sydney is now making a name for herself as one of the best-dressed coaches in women’s basketball. But more than just helping her teams succeed on the court, Sydney has become a fierce advocate for gender equality and representation in sports and life.

What’s your favorite way to discover new music on Spotify?

I’m starting to get hip to a lot of things because these young kids, they’re listening to all this type of stuff and I’m still stuck on ’90s R&B like Aaliyah. But I typically like to search for an artist, find a playlist, and then go from there. And then you’ll have different artists in that same genre that are in the mix, so I get into new stuff by listening on shuffle. That’s the easiest way for people like me.

Are there any new podcasts that you’ve listened to or discovered lately?

I love Amanda Seales’ podcast Small Doses. And then I love the podcast Don’t Call Me White Girl. Mona, the host of DCMWG, just makes me laugh. She talks about things you hear in social media and just puts her own thing on it, which I love.

Are you an audiobooks fan? What’s your favorite way to listen?

During the early part of the pandemic, I got into listening to audiobooks. There was something about that experience of listening to a book that was working for me. So I would do it when I would work out. I was big on riding my bike during COVID. I was at home all day, and so instead of listening to music the whole time, I was also feeding myself with information.

As you’ve evolved from player to coach you’ve also grown into a prominent voice for women’s empowerment for your social media followers. Do you have a mantra or mentality for staying true to yourself and your passions as your journey continues?

I mean, I always like to say that representation matters. That’s my whole thing. I never intended for any of this to happen. I grew up in a time where we didn’t have social media, so it was never like, “Okay, let me do this so I can go viral.” People my age don’t immediately think about doing things to go viral.

There’s so many young women that I’ve seen over the years who are simply not comfortable being themselves. They’re worried about what people think. They’re worried about what social media comments will say. And so a lot of people have just told me, “You make me feel like I can do anything.”

And it doesn’t even have to do with basketball or fashion. They just think they can do anything by looking at me. So I’m very grateful for that.

What is most rewarding about your work helping women college athletes progress on and off the court?

Every day, I get to help a young woman get closer to living out her dreams, whether that’s pursuing a degree or playing basketball. And so the passion that I have for coaching stems from knowing that when I come across a young woman or a young individual, I know that I’m going to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. Or if we’re on the basketball court, I’m going to be able to help them and provide them with the tools they need. And so when you see a kid whose life you were able to touch, and then they go off and they go do things, there’s nothing better than that.

When you’re seeking something new, what tools or resources do you use?

Typically when I’m thinking about just new ways to be myself or just other ideas that I’m trying to come up with, I’ll find inspiration from Google, or social media, or somewhere else and think of how I can make it me. I’ve just gotten to a point where I don’t care if no one else likes what I’m into. I don’t care if someone else thinks this idea is completely insane. If I like something, it’s simply because I like it.

When it comes to fashion, you’re well-known for your sideline looks. How did you become interested in that world?

My passion for fashion started when I was a kid, and there’s a long history of me taking pride in how I look. I grew up in a family of seven kids. And so I grew up seeing my sisters be super dainty and everything, but I was a little rough around the edges. I love playing basketball, but I always wanted to be super prissy. If you ask me, my sisters and my mom were fashion queens. My mom was wearing the high-waist pants before we were, and she got me my first pair of boots when I was in the fourth grade, and I wore them every day. That’s why my family calls me “Boots” now.

And then even when I went on to college, people always knew I was going to come out with something that ain’t nobody seen before. And I might not have had all the money or anything like that, but I was going to find a way to at least find a couple of pieces that worked for me.

Did that change at all once you started coaching?

When I started working under the coach that I played for in college, he was always like, “You wear what you want to wear. You don’t let anybody tell you that this is too much or this is extra.” He was like, “Just be yourself.” I felt empowered by that and we actually started dressing up during COVID when all the other coaches were wearing quarter-zip sweatshirts and khaki pants. He was like, “We ain’t doing that. I don’t care if it’s just me and you on the sidelines, we’re going to look nice.” And so it was me and him dressing up to the nines, and it’s what I’m comfortable in. I feel like I’m putting my best foot forward for our kids if I’m looking my best.

What’s something new that you’ve discovered lately and fallen in love with?

I’ve always loved animals and I just got a dog. She’s about to be eight months old. So I am opening my eyes to the fact that my dog is not just a dog to me. She’s like a human being. And so I think I’m always searching for clothes and all types of toys for her.

And this is not necessarily just about her, but I’m at a point where I’m truly growing up and thinking about what’s next in life, and about having kids in the picture. My family, my sisters are having kids left and right and everybody’s looking at me like, “What you doing?” So I’m really starting to think about solidifying the life that I want and doing all the things that I’m doing with fashion, with my job, with a new animal. So yeah, I think that I’m just discovering all of the blessings of life in itself.

Stay up on Sydney’s courtside couture by following her on Instagram.