Patrick Reusse
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The Swenson twins, Stella and Olivia, from the Class of 2024 at Wayzata High School, were making an official recruiting visit for volleyball to the University of Minnesota in October.

Vicki Seliger-Swenson, the twins' mother and a long-time volleyball coach, was in a group a number of yards behind the recruits and their hosts.

"Carter Booth was one of the hosts,'' Seliger-Swenson said. "And as four of them were walking ahead, it struck me: They look like a normal group of young women students, walking down a sidewalk, except they are 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 and 6-1.

"It's amazing, being from my generation, how comfortable our young women athletes have become with their tallness.''

It was my amazement after interviewing Booth this week that led to a call to Vicki to confirm this theory:

"Carter is 6-foot-7, she is 18, and she competes with no discernible limits on mobility. This has to be the phenomenon of modern women's volleyball.''

Seliger-Swenson concurred, and said: "We started talking about that when Dana Rettke (6-8) arrived at Wisconsin. And Carter, that height, age and ability, plus a great person from a great family … she has so much in front of her.''

On Wednesday, Booth as a middle blocker was honored along with outside hitter Taylor Landfair (conference player of the year) and Melani Shaffmaster, the 6-3 setter, on the All-Big Ten first team.

Booth lived in the Twin Cities for almost four years when her father, Calvin, was working in the Timberwolves front office. She went to Breck in fifth, sixth and seventh grades, then was an eighth-grader at Benilde-St. Margaret's.

"Carter was a terrific person, and a standout on our volleyball team as a 6-foot-5 eighth grader,'' said Jerry Pettinger, BSM's activities director. "We cried when she left.''

Denver's Tim Connelly hired Calvin Booth as assistant general manager in 2017. That led to the family's move to Colorado. Five years later, in May 2022, the Timberwolves paid a king's ransom to hire Connelly, and Booth was promoted to Nuggets' president of basketball operations.

Does Calvin get to many of his daughter's matches?

"He did before the start of the NBA schedule, but now he travels with the team,'' Carter said. "I'm crossing my fingers he might make a match this weekend.''

One certainty: Keisha Booth, Carter's mom, will be in attendance when the Gophers host a first/second-round portion of the NCAA tournament at Maturi Pavilion on Friday and Saturday.

"I'd say my mom has made 95 percent … meaning she might've missed one,'' Carter said. "And with my brother playing basketball, and my younger sister and little brother — he's 9 — at home, that takes an effort.''

Carey Booth, 6-8, is playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and has signed with Penn State. That's where father, Calvin, played before his 10-year NBA career as a 6-11 center.

The Nittany Lions' connection did not work in volleyball. Carter committed verbally to Hugh McCutcheon and the Gophers when she was 14. And she stuck with that through her time as a high school and national AAU star in Colorado.

"The approach here, that it's not all volleyball, that it is development of the whole person, appealed to me,'' Booth said. "Yes, we're also about winning, and we do win, but getting the best out of myself in all areas … that's who I want to be when I leave college.''

McCutcheon's announcement in October that he was stepping down as coach after this season was a surprise to all, yet this team has stayed on the coach's projection:

Being much more consistent — meaning, better — in the second half of the Big Ten schedule than in the first. Example A came last weekend, with the Friday-Saturday wins at Ohio State and Nebraska.

Fierce competition, and Carter Booth loved it.

"It was my first time at Nebraska, and the whole 'Red Kingdom' experience,'' she said. "They brought it all. They even had their big blowup Cornhusker floating up there. It was madness. And we fought to a 3-0 win.''

NCAA volleyball: Gophers vs. SE Louisiana at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN+

She had been asked earlier what it was like to tower over classmates in the middle grades. She was honest. She said, "Kids can be mean.''

If there's a laugh to be had over that, it belongs to Carter: already all-Big Ten as an 18-year-old, and with more rare air awaiting.

But in volleyball, not basketball.

"My dad was coaching a team and told me I had to try it at about age 9,'' Carter said. "I didn't like it. I lasted about two games. Then, I found volleyball in a gym at age 10 and was hooked.''

Calvin sounded as if he might be in a Denver practice gym in a phone call on Wednesday. Told Carter had made All-Big Ten, he said:

"Yes, I just saw that. Proud of her. Carter's always been a high achiever, always has done well in school.''

But no basketball? "It wasn't for her,'' he said. "Volleyball's great, too.''