Coach Carter Brings Down the House

Motivating the graduates at St. Anthony High School College Preparatory Commencement Exercise

Long Beach, CA – Coach Carter returns to show his gratitude for the use of the high school gymnasium during recent film shoot.

Saturday, May 29, 2004 the St. Anthony High School College Preparatory held their commencement exercise in the Jack Errison Memorial Gymnasium for its Class of 2004.
St. Anthony High School is a Catholic, co-educational, parish high school that provides an affordable, quality education for students in the Long Beach area through spiritual, academic and extra-curricular programs that enable them to become productive members in a complex global society. It was founded in 1920 as part of the oldest Catholic Parish in Long Beach. The high school has over 11,000 alumni.

The class of 2004 at St Anthony’s High School will never forget their graduation day. Not only because it was the day they were presented to the world and recognized for their academic achievements, the completion of their secondary education, and the beginning of their new lives as young adults entering the world of higher education and or the work force; but because of the inspiring graduation addressed delivered by Coach Ken Carter.

“Coach Carter is a distinguished spokesperson and educator in his own right. He has engaged him self in one of today’s most important challenges the education of our youth,” said Frank Colonna, Vice Mayor. “We look forward with great anticipation to welcoming him to St Anthony High School’s Commencement day.”

Coach Carter spoke to these young men and women about what they should take into the world with them along with their diplomas, he stated; “. . . you must have an A+ attitude in order to make a difference.” Coach Carter told the students many people they will meet along the way will try to place obstacles in their path. But they should not be discouraged or let it deter them. He further stated that on their journey through life, “(they) . . . have a choice each day about what kind of attitude (they) show the world . . . it’s better to choose to have a winning positive attitude.”

A powerful message was sent to the Richmond (CA) High School basketball team when Coach Ken Carter placed a pad lock on the doors and literally locked his undefeated, Varsity team out of the gym. Although they were headed for the play-offs, he forced them to hit the books when he learned many of them were not meeting the expectations of the contract they previously signed. The coach told the team they should not count on simply their athletic potential as a way out of inner city life. The way out requires a sound academic foundation.

Coach Carter was asked to deliver the commencement address after meeting the faculty and many of the students in February 2004, when Tollin/Robbins Productions and Paramount Pictures with MTV Films selected St. Anthony High School to be one of the sites for the filming of the “Coach Carter” movie. “Coach Carter” stars Samuel L. Jackson, co-staring Hip-Hop R&B Singer Ashanti, Rob Brown (Finding Forrester), and Robert Ri’chard (One-On-One). He agreed because he was honored at the sacrifice the basketball team made to accommodate the filming.

Coach Carter opened his address with a special thanks to the school principal, the Varsity Basketball Coach, and the team for allowing the use of their gym during basketball season thereby giving up home court advantage.

Coach Carter gave the students advice about accountability, integrity, teamwork and leadership to succeed both on and off the basketball court. He urged students to strive to be men and women of integrity and high moral character, to give back to the community through their service, and do the right thing at all times, “even when no one else is around.”

The speech had something for every one and the crowd let him know. Carter was uplifting and motivational. His triangle offense is as he stated, “. . . something to touch your head, hands, and your hearts.” It is like Coach Phil Jackson who has the triangle offense for the Lakers and it has created a championship team. Coach Carter presented these students with a triangle offense that will make them successful in life. With the students’ hands waving in the air, the speech culminated with a rousing standing ovation. Regina Holden-Rushing was overwhelmed with joy at the reaction of the crowd.

She stated, “In this time of celebrities, important people and big shots, Coach Carter still answers his own telephone, emails, and returns calls. . . (she) was surprised when she thanked him for taking the time.” Carter replied, “.I don’t consider myself a “big shot” just a little shot, because the major difference between a big shot and a little shot is the big shot is just a little shot who kept on shooting.”

I was very impressed with the fact that although Ms. Holden-Rushing had made accommodations to have the key note address by Coach Carter early in the program to make time for the student speakers, unlike most, Coach Carter stayed through the entire event to let the students know he cared and was interested in their accomplishments. When I asked him about his schedule he stated, “That he had other meetings but it was important for him to see each one walk across the stage. Adults have to give more than lip service they have to let young people know they are interested in them and that they care.”
It was evident that the graduates appreciated the fact he stayed. Many stopped him to say thank you and take pictures with them and their families. Several of the young men introduced him to their fathers saying, “. . . see this is the guy I told you about.” Graduates, family members’, school teachers and staff all waited patiently to get a moment with the coach. Amidst hugs and kisses, handshakes, autograph signing, and picture taking Coach Carter made time for all.

Several parents asked Coach Carter about his upcoming book, which Ms. Holden-Rushing had made them aware. He let them know that autobiographical book is due in stores in fall 2004 along with the movie release.

By: J. Williams, Staff Writer
Community News – Los Angeles, CA

Comments are closed.