Scholar-athletes Taste Success

June 12, 2001
By Dave Newhouse STAFF WRITER

RICHMOND — There was a cake-cutting ceremony Monday at Richmond High School. Speeches were made, trophies presented. But this wasn’t the typical spring sports banquet. As far as accomplishments, it was far more important.

It was the culmination of Richmond High coach Ken Carter’s goal three years ago, when he temporarily ended his unbeaten basketball team’s season because of poor study habits.

Carter’s lockout caused a national reaction, and a visit to the school from Gov. Gray Davis. But after all the attention died down, what happened to those Richmond kids academically?

Carter showed some of them off Monday. His son, Damian, a senior who broke his father’s school record for scoring, assists and steals while also making the honor role, has received a basketball scholarship from West Point.

Courtney Anderson, who spent these past two years at Contra Costa College, has received a football scholarship from Nevada-Las Vegas. Wayne Oliver, who attended West Hills College in Coalinga for two years, will attend Cameron University, an NAIA school in Oklahoma, on a basketball scholarship.

Marvin Miranda, another Richmond honor student, is a freshman at Cal and considering trying out for the basketball team. Chris Gibson, a West Hills freshman, said he has a basketball scholarship awaiting him in another year at Louisiana Tech.

“We needed our kids to step up,” Ken Carter said. “We needed to do something drastic. As a result, our school won, our coaching staff won, our players won.”

Carter added that every senior he has coached at Richmond has gone on to a junior college or four-year school.

“Now the whole community is involved,” he said. “These kids are known by everyone in the community. They go into a barber shop and people are asking, ‘Are you studying?'”

Carter pointed out that Richmond High has received $175,000 from the state for meeting attendance requirements, which he attributed to an improved academic atmosphere on campus.

“We’re the only high school in our district who met these requirements,” he said. “Our other students see the basketball players getting scholarships, and see that they’re successful.”

That doesn’t mean Carter’s work is done as an off-campus coach.

“The grades are improving, but fluctuating,” he said. “I have to check on (his team). They know I’m going to check on them. It’s making them accountable for their actions”

Damian Carter recalled three years ago how his Oilers teammates urged him to talk his father out of the boycott.

“I can’t,” he told them at the time. “Our rule at home is that we don’t talk basketball.”

Sheila Reed, a city of Richmond employee and volunteer academic adviser for the Oilers basketball team, summed up Monday’s ceremony.

“We did the right thing,” she told those in attendance. “Academics are more important than anything athletic.”

But, hand in hand, they do blend perfectly.

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