Pageant crown proves Sha Carter is more than just a basketball star

4 – minute read

From the time she started playing competitive basketball at 13 to her acclaimed collegiate career at Florida Gulf Coast University, Sha Carter’s hard-working personality has yielded exceptional results.


At 22, a mentor prompted her to take that same drive into unfamiliar territory — a beauty pageant. Despite some hesitation, Carter accepted the new challenge and won the Miss Black and Gold title. The 2023 ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year and ASUN First-Team member showed how players can excel beyond Alico Arena.


“It gave me a chance to show girls that, yes, I play basketball, but I can throw on some heels and do this pageant,” said Carter.

The Miss Black and Gold pageant hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. aims to highlight and foster the connection between different forms of success and etiquette among young women. It also helps showcase poise, self-confidence, communication skills, intelligence and beauty.


Maggie Hohne, assistant director of student-athlete development and academic advisor for the 13th ASUN Conference regular season champs, tipped off Carter to the pageant. FGCU’s Upsilon Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity requested Hohne’s assistance in identifying and nominating outstanding women for the competition.


“Based on these talents and skill sets, I knew this would be a great opportunity for Sha to continue to grow and showcase herself and her talents outside of the arena,” Hohne said.


Carter took the challenge head on, just like the Eagles’ 33 winning games last season. Her reasoning? She wanted to scratch off a personal goal to be more involved with campus activities and to break down barriers between athletes and non-athletes.

FGCU basketball star Sha Carter
Sha Carter won the Miss Black and Gold pageant hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

“I saw it as the perfect opportunity to know more about where I go to school and expand my palette [of] friendship,’’ said Carter. “My biggest thing was, let’s go try something new. This seems like something fun and out of my comfort zone.”


Still, it was yet another activity to juggle in her busy life. Carter would balance basketball practice in the morning and classes during the day. Then, she kept her energy up in the evening for extensive pageant practices and additional studying. With her signature determination, she achieved a 4.0 GPA while majoring in criminal justice — a field of study influenced by someone close to her.


“My grandmother showed me this show called ‘Psych’ and got me interested in criminal justice,” she said, referring to USA Network’s 2006-14 detective show. “I wanted to become a detective.”


From that point on, Carter narrowed her future career to becoming a forensic scientist and psychologist. She would take the right steps to make the dream come to life as she graduated from Walsh University in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminology with minors in forensic science and government foreign affairs.


She came to FGCU to pursue her master of arts in criminal justice.


“I was nervous with the rigors of class and work, but my professors at FGCU were transparent, patient and helpful when it came to learning the material and showing me how it can be applied to being a detective.”


Carter’s academic achievements were a major factor in the Miss Black and Gold pageant, along with competition in attire, evening gown, ticket sales, speech and, ultimately, talent.

“Everyone wanted me to do something along the line of basketball, and I kept saying no! I’m more than basketball. I worked on a contemporary dance with my mom, and it was so special to me to be able to do it with her. I cried during the dance as I thought about the trials and tribulations that I have been through in my life.”


It was emotional for others, too.


“It’s one thing to see Sha work hard in her own element of the basketball court, but to see her put so much passion [into] and execute the dance was just amazing to watch,” said Chelsea Lyles, women’s associate basketball coach.


With all the pageant sections completed, the three finalists held hands onstage while waiting for the winner to be announced. Carter controlled her breathing and held her posture as if she was attempting free throws in the final moments of a game.


She won Miss Congeniality, which the contestants voted on. “I remember looking at my girls, just smiling at them and being grateful that they thought so highly of me.”


She also won the talent section. “For the judges to rule that as the best talent, when all I wanted to do was put my heart into my moves, it just made me feel they understood me.”


When she was announced as the winner of Miss Black and Gold, she was “happy, really in disbelief about winning and just overjoyed.”

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