Carl English in Patrick’s Cove, NL. by James Long
Newfoundlander Carl English retired this past weekend as a shooting guard and GM for the St. John’s Edge basketball team due to contractual obligations not being met.
His professional basketball career began in the NBA D League. After playing many years in Europe where he led the top Spanish League in scoring, he returned home to Newfoundland in 2017 to play with the NBL Canada team St. John’s Edge where he was named MVP and Canadian of the year in his first season. Pretty impressive! But much more impressive when you know where he started from!
Carl was born in St. John’s and lived there with his 4 brothers. When he was 5 his family home burnt down and took his parents. He and his 4 brothers were scattered amongst family, and Carl lived with his aunt and uncle in Patrick’s Cove, a tiny community in NL. And this is where his basketball career began!
He built his own basketball net and set it on the main road in front of his home and played basketball there for countless hours in all kinds of Newfoundland weather. It was his all consuming passion throughout his youth that set him on his journey of success to this day.
“I dribbled on grass, I dribbled on rocks. I dribbled on anything. To me, it’s about how far you are willing to push yourself.” Carl English to CBC News.
Many years ago I was commissioned by Memorial University of Newfoundland to create a piece of Carl and his basketball net that stood on the road many years after he left the island.
I was given about 1/2 dozen grainy action photos of Carl to work with. He was playing away and I couldn’t get my own pics. Definitely not my ideal way to begin a piece. The more pics the better! But I accepted the challenge anyway and set out to paint Carl.
Myself and three of my friends made a day of it and set out to Patrick’s Cove just south on the Avalon peninsula. It was a beautiful summer day and I took a series of photographs of Carl’s home and basketball net. The net was standing lonely vigil in the sun staring out over Placentia Bay. It was beaten and weathered and showed the scars of Newfoundland’s brutal climate. I loved it!
I went home and set out to paint Carl and his iconic basketball net: the symbol of his drive, passion and determination! I decided it should be set on a freshly rain-washed highway that was being lit by the bright sun of his future, and set to the dark skies of his past clearing away in the stormy clouds behind him.
Prints were made of the final piece and they sold out. The original was framed and put up for auction, where I understand as per the auctioneer, it brought in a very high dollar value. Much, much higher than ever hoped! I was ecstatic and the client was happy! But I never did get any feedback from Carl, or if he liked this piece or not. I just hope that when he saw it he paused and had a little moment of reminiscing and thought to himself, ‘Yeah, that is exactly how I spent my days!’
You can read more interesting facts about Carl here.