Jensen Caretti never really knew her birth parents. At just 11 weeks old, she was put into the foster system, where she was placed with Sharon and Daniel Caretti.
While some kids struggle in the foster system, Caretti used the love of her adopted family to thrive. Growing up in Clarington, Ohio, a town near West Virginia on the Ohio River with a population of 378 people, she became a high-school basketball star, and eventually earned a scholarship to play the sport at Ohio State.
“My parents have always pushed me to be successful,” Caretti said. “They’ve always pushed me to go to the gym and to do my best.”
Sharon Caretti and Daniel Caretti officially adopted Jensen Caretti, now a sophomore guard, when she was 2 years old.
“My husband wanted to take a break from taking in more foster kids, but I said ‘please let’s just take one more,’” Sharon said. “The minute that he held her for the first time, he fell in love.”
Jensen Caretti received her first basketball before the age of 1, and soon fell in love with the game. When she was a teenager, she dreamed of playing for a Division I school.
That dream did not take long to become reality. Major college programs began to notice the 6-foot-1 guard, who was more athletic than just about every opponent she faced.
Caretti was named Ohio’s Ms. Basketball, as well as Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year for her senior year in high school. She became a five-star recruit, was ranked the 31st overall player in her class and was offered full scholarships from a number of programs. But Ohio State was always going to be the place where she ended up.
Her mother recalled that when Jensen was 6 years old, she said to her husband, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Jensen went to Ohio State?”
And so she did.
For now, Jensen Caretti recognizes she has limited playing time on an experienced team that has seniors Stephanie Mavunga, Linnae Harper and Kelsey Mitchell.
Jensen’s playing time has been limited to this point in her career given the veteran presence on the team. But she has shown plenty to the coaches in her minutes that she could be ready for the bigger role that awaits her next season when five players leave the team.
“Jensen is a big energy person,” associate head coach Patrick Klein said. “Every day you can count on her having a smile on her face and coming to practice ready to compete.”
The numbers Jensen has put up this season do not jump out on the page. She averages 2.5 points per game in only 8.5 minutes per game. However, she said she prefers to pass and focus on defense rather than attempt to be the go-to offensive playmaker.
Since Sharon is unable to be with her Jensen on a day-to-day basis, she said she is admires the closeness of the team and called it a “family away from home.”
Jensen Caretti’s story is inspiring, it is one that also is far from over.
“The best part about Jensen is, her story is going to be an amazing one when it’s all said and done at Ohio State,” Klein said.