It’s been said that sports help teach some of life’s most valuable lessons.

Just ask Carly McClain who, through tennis, learned how to be confident and is now chasing her dream in the music scene in the Big Apple.

“It is a team sport when you’re playing doubles but it’s more of a solo sport than what I had played previously encountered with basketball and volleyball but when you are only with one other person, there’s so much responsibility on your shoulders, so knowing exactly what your partner needs, really being able to read another person and also having a lot of confidence because if there’s only one other person on the court, half of that responsibility, if not more, is put on you. So, just be really confident in the decisions that you’re making.”

She added that’s a really important life lesson specifically to where she’s now living.

“In New York, people aren’t as mean as you’ve been told,” McClain added. “I feel like there are a lot of stigmas that New Yorkers are super rude and mean. They can be but also, they’re extremely helpful. If you ever need anything, you just have to put yourself out there and ask for help because otherwise, people feel like they’re going to be intruding on your personal space. There’s not a lot of personal space in New York. The apartments in the rooms are smaller. The public transportation is very crowded, so personal space is definitely a luxury.”

Tennis also helped provide several fond memories for McClain.

“The tournaments, getting up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning and getting on the bus with probably 12 or 15 other kids, eating those good honey butter chicken biscuits, just bonding with everyone on the away tournaments and getting super sunburned, all that good stuff,” she said.

McClain began writing music at a young age and got her first tasted of music theater while in high school.

“I was Miss Hannigan in Marshall’s production of Annie. So that was my first little taste and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is so fun.’”

After graduating from Marshall High School in 2013, McClain took a trip to New York with her family.

“I was like, ‘I think I should live here,’” she recalls. “‘This is my place.’”

She eventually did make the move but not until after attending Stephen F. Austin State University where she majored in music.

“There are a lot of music majors who usually take four-and-a-half years but I didn’t get my teaching certificate because I wanted to move to New York as soon as possible so I just did a pre-certification program,” she said. “It’s definitely different visiting from living. The awe does wear off but there are moments, like crossing the Brooklyn Bridge where I see the skyline or I’m in Time Square with all the tourists, but I’m so happy to be here because at one point, this is what I was dreaming off. I can’t be anything but grateful.”

Since moving to New York, she has released a pair of singles.

“I had one single come out in April that I actually wrote in high school,” she said. “It had just taken so long for me to actually put it out there and want people to listen to it but I decided to just go for it when I moved here. My next one is coming out on Friday (Aug. 9). It’s a completely different mood than the first one that I released but I’m so excited for this one.

“I have a personal website, CarlyMcClain.com,” she explained. “It actually just went live a few weeks ago. There I have my resume. I have a lot of performance videos. I have one little blog post and I’m going to try to make more. It’s little things to help people keep up with me and definitely industry people who I might come in contact with, I can direct them there.”

McClain makes trips back home when she’s able to and always welcomes the southern hospitality.

“I feel like I have lost a little bit of my southern charm because of what I was talking about earlier,” she said. “New Yorkers just don’t go out of their way to make conversation with strangers. It’s just the culture here. I’m not saying they’re rude, it’s just their culture. So I’ve adapted to that but it is nice going home where you could be in the grocery store talking to someone you’ve never met. That southern hospitality is pretty missed, just like the doors being held open. Just the little things like that are nice to come home to and seeing it’s all still there.”

Editor’s note: This is the 10th installment of an occasional series. Please send topic suggestions to nhague@marshallnewsmessenger.com.