By SHERRY DIGMON
The Flomaton High School auditorium was filled with wildly enthusiastic educators at the 2nd Annual Pep Rally Friday, August 4. The event, which brings together every public school faculty and administrator in the county, is the annual kick-off for the new school year and features a school band, cheerleaders, mascots and school personnel showing their school spirit – loudly!
Beginning with the Spirit competition, Flomaton Elementary principal Courtney McBride and Flomaton baseball coach Troy Brown took home the Spirit Award with their cheer that brought the house down.
Each year, the Escambia County School administration endeavors to bring an inspirational, motivational, and entertaining speaker to the Pep Rally.
Superintendent Michele McClung engaged a speaker who was all of the above last Friday. Coach Ken Carter was the subject of a 2005 movie, based on his true story. Samuel L. Jackson played Carter in the movie. Carter made headlines in 1999 for suspending his undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results.
Introducing Coach Carter, McClung said, “It is my great privilege to introduce a man who embodies the true essence of leadership, inspiration, and unwavering determination …
“The movie about him is one that has touched the hearts of millions around the world. A former basketball player himself, Coach Carter understands the transformative power of sports and the profound impact it can have on young lives.
“But what sets Coach Carter apart is not just his talent in coaching; it is his unwavering commitment to his players’ overall growth and development. He was not merely a coach on the basketball court; he was a mentor, a guide, and a champion for his team’s success both on and off the court.
“Coach Carter’s coaching philosophy centers around the belief that education and discipline are the foundation for success in all aspects of life. He demanded not only excellence on the court but also in the classroom. His players learned that true success is about pushing boundaries, overcoming adversity, and making choices that lead to a better future.
“As we welcome Coach Carter today, let us be inspired by his courage to challenge the status quo and set higher standards for his team in pursuit of performance excellence. Let us reflect on the profound impact we, too, can have on the lives of our students, not just as educators but as mentors and role models.
“Coach Carter’s story is a powerful reminder that our work goes beyond academics; it is about shaping character, building resilience, and nurturing the potential in every student we encounter.”
For more than an hour, Coach Carter kept the audience engaged with humor and inspiration, often using audience members to help make a point. Below are a few excerpts from his remarks:
“Don’t fight with your students over cell phones. Let students keep their cell phones – you keep their chargers.”
“You got to have personality in life. We’re not getting out alive. These are your good old days.”
Carter said he never missed a day of school in 12 years. His mama told him, if you’re sick, you can be sick at school as well as at home.
“A goal is a great idea with a deadline.”
“You’re not compensated by the hour. You’re compensated by the value you bring to the hour.”
“My life changed when I started to read.”
“Keep your foot on the gas.”
“Don’t talk about it. Be about it.”
About the boys on his teams, “I want my boys to be high school grads before they become high school dads.”
“It doesn’t matter where you start. It matters how you finish.”
Every student Carter coached finished high school and went on to college. He talked about one athlete in particular who was a drug dealer. Carter said he’s still “selling drugs” but now he does it legally – he’s a doctor.
Coach Carter stayed after the program for pictures with any and all who wanted to have a picture taken with him.
[Editor’s note: It would be impossible in one article to capture Coach Carter’s wit and wisdom.]
This article is written in my capacity as Atmore News publisher, not as a BOE member, and I am not speaking for the board. SD