Coach Carter Inspires his Athletes

Ten years have passed since Coach Ken Carter locked the doors to the Richmond High gymnasium canceling all games and practices for eight days, earning his undefeated basketball team their first loss of the season. Since then his players have graduated, earned scholarships, and every player he has coached has gone on to college. In those eight days Coach Carter challenged his players and ultimately the entire town of Richmond, CA to apply the same discipline and determination to education as they did to winning a state championship.

“AVERAGE is just not good enough. Period!” is Coach Carter’s philosophy. He set the bar high that year, and every year since, despite the fact that at least half the faculty was taking bets on how long he would make it. The other teachers told him that this would only make the players hate him and scoff at his requirements. Coach Carter’s response, “I don’t need a 15-year-old friend,” but the students need someone to teach them the value of education for their future.

Carter continued to attend his players’ classes and enforce a suitable dress code that did not include backwards hats.

“If a boy had his hat on backwards, I would go around and talk to the back of his head.”

People considered it punishment he says, but it wasn’t about punishment. If you punish students, it only lasts for a short time, but if you teach them discipline and respect then they will have learned something they can use for the rest of their lives.

Coach Carter is no longer coaching basketball, but his success at Richmond High along with the success of the students he coached has allowed him to continue to inspire kids across the nation. He is an education activist who travels the country inspiring kids and parents to put education first and through education to discover the potential that they have to offer the world.

On Friday, March 30, 2010, the Youth Outreach Services of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa will bring Coach Carter to speak at Holland Hall for the 2nd Tulsa Youth Speaker Series. Carter’s message, “The Possibilities Are Endless,” is “all about empowering youth to make positive changes,” says Chris Siemens, director of Youth Outreach Services for the Mental Health Association.

When asked what he wanted people to take from his message, Coach Carter replied without hesitation, “You must be kind and generous to everyone you meet.”

Coach Carter exemplifies that spirit in his continuous efforts to help others.

“I believe in teaching kids to help themselves,” Carter says, “so they can, in turn, help others.”

He also has founded and financed Coach Carters Impact Academy due to open in Marlin, TX in the fall. In a town with a population of 6000, Carter discovered a run-down school that had been vacant for over 20 years and decided to give it a new life. The school is a reflection of Carter’s belief in hard work, discipline, accountability, and an education that extends beyond the classroom.

So, what inspires Coach Carter?

“It all starts with family” he says. From there it is the people you surround yourself with and then it is up to you to be accountable and to learn to fill your mind with positive thoughts in order to block out as much negativity as possible. If you get one percent better per day, within 100 days you’ll be 100 percent better,” Carter says.

You can learn more about Coach Carter, become a Facebook fan, and join the Coach Carter
Impact Club at

Categories: Sports