Twin sisters Cara Scalisi and Christina (Scalisi) Martinez have always been inseparable and competitive. During their formative years they were constantly seeing who was best, whether they were playing basketball or comparing grades they got in school. As they got older they realized the value of working together and achieving success together.
Throughout their time at Liverpool High School the Scalisi twins played basketball. They knew they wanted to continue playing in college and hoped to do so together. As graduation neared in 2009 they received an offer they couldn’t refuse. “We were approached by an OCC assistant basketball coach and a former Liverpool player who was at OCC. They told us the College wanted both of us to play together there. The possibility was too good to pass up,” said Scalisi.
The Scalisi twins came to OCC and played integral roles in the Lazers coming within one win of a title. The 2009-2010 team lost in the national championship game, finishing the season with a 35-1 record. “To this day we still talk about that final game. To come so close is something that still eats at us, but we know we still made history and it’s something we’ll always have,” said Martinez.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Wheeler has fond memories of his former players and what they accomplished during their two years in Lazer uniforms. “They are great young ladies and two of the hardest working players that I’ve ever had. Being able to coach the only set of twins to play for us who were that talented was a fantastic opportunity,” he said.
The sisters were also successful in the classroom but in different majors. “I always loved art. I knew OCC had a great Art program with a concentration in Graphic Design which would help me enter the workforce quickly,” said Martinez. She credits Professors Phil Austin and Christine Kukenberger with providing a great foundation and giving her the confidence to further explore her passion.
Cara Scalisi’s interests were related to health care. While focusing on math and science classes she connected with a former basketball teammate who was enrolled in the medical imaging program at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Scalisi realized how much she liked medical imaging sciences, worked with OCC Anatomy and Physiology Professor Tom Keenan to make sure she had all of her prerequisites and applied. “He helped me achieve success in class by taking the extra time to work with me, by creating an easy-to-learn environment, by showing students many study tips and displaying a real care and concern for all of his students. When I was accepted into Upstate’s program it was very exciting,” said Scalisi.
Since graduating from OCC in 2011 the sisters are continuing to experience success. Martinez works in graphic design at Cooper & Clement in Syracuse. Scalisi is an x-ray technologist at St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates in North Medical Center in Liverpool. Martinez recently got married and Scalisi is interested in getting back into basketball part-time as a coach.
Their time spent together at OCC is never far away. “We keep in touch with many of our teammates. Our bond was tremendous, much like a family,” said Scalisi. “Coach Wheeler emphasized the importance of academics and for us to look out for one another. It all carried over into our life beyond OCC,” said Martinez. The sisters joined several former players in February 2015 for the first ever Women’s Basketball Alumni Game at Allyn Hall.
The sisters have advice for current students and new graduates:
- Don’t give up on your dreams.
- Have fun and be passionate about what you want to do.
- Be ready to work. The more you put in the more you get out.
- Don’t settle.
- Networking is critical. Don’t be afraid to meet people.