In preparation for next season, the football team just added a new coach, Cortez Carter, whose job is to coach the defensive linemen as well as be the special teams coordinator. In other words, he helps manage and design game plans. Coach Carter was born in northern Virginia; however, he is coming from Huntington, W. Va., where he worked as a graduate assistant at Marshall University. I asked Carter why he chose Lawrence, considering the fact that he would be moving so far away from home. He responded by saying, “It is an outstanding academic university. You can really help your student athletes prepare for their next step in life through their education. Appleton has been a great area. I have never seen so many genuinely nice people.” I then proceeded to ask Coach Carter about his past life. I asked him if he had previously been an athlete, which may entail why he decided to coach, and to find what sparked his passion for football. It turns out that he played football, basketball and ran track in high school. As an athlete, Carter knows the ins-and-outs of the game and knows what a player needs to do to be successful. He said based on his own experience, an athlete can be successful by “just going to work out every day.” Since Carter played multiple sports in high school, I asked him, “Why football?” He said, “[Football] itself is different. It teaches a bunch of life lessons, from being accountable to having to be a hard worker.” Carter recalls how in his junior year he realized that he was not going to make it to the NFL, so he decided to channel his passion for football into coaching. In terms of looking to the future, he says that he has many goals for the team as a whole next year and cannot wait to work with them every day. I asked him what his coaching style was like and he started off with a joke, which is an important quality to have as a coach. It is important for the athlete and coach to have a close bond by being able to joke around, but also have that serious/passionate side to the game as well that will lead the team to more success. He defined his own coaching style by saying, “I coach with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I want my players to know it brings me pure joy watching them make plays on the football field.”
In an interview with sophomore football player Juan Rivera, I asked him about his first impressions on the new coach. He said, “He’s down to business and ready to work with us to improve our skills. I think Coach Carter will bring in a high level of intensity as well as new techniques that can help our defensive line be the best in the conference.” I then proceeded to ask Juan what he loves about the game of football. He said, “What I love about football is that it makes me grow mentally as well as physically. Having to go through adversities with my teammates has allowed me to not only appreciate their brotherhood, but also grow into becoming a leader when needed.” Juan brings up a good point. Sure, people play because it’s fun and they’re passionate about the game, but a key component is the life and leadership skills you gain along the way, intermixed with the endless friendships gained.