By Joan L. Boiko
About 150 local high schools and Youth Leadership students had the rare opportunity to be inspired by the man behind the movie “Coach Carter” as part of his recent visit to the Coachella Valley.
Ken Carter, who is known as the high school basketball coach who locked his undefeated state play-off basketball team off of the court to focus on their studies, was the keynote speaker at the Regional Access Project (RAP) Nonprofit Conference held at the Doubletree Resort in Cathedral City. Following his presentation to the adults, Carter stuck around to address students from high schools throughout the valley. Among the attendees were about 50 Desert Hot Springs High and 35 Cathedral City High students.
Carter’s story was chronicled in the 2005 “Coach Carter” film starring Samuel L. Jackson as the basketball coach who returns to his high school in Richmond, California in order to get the basketball team into shape. While he succeeds in getting the players on a winning streak, he locks them out of the gym and shuts down the championship season because their grades were starting to suffer. Despite criticism from players and their parents, he sticks to his guns determined that his players excel in academics as well as on the court. Carter opened his Coach Carter Impact Academy, located in Marlin, Texas, which consists of a school for teens and technical training school to help adults get jobs. He serves as the dean/headmaster of the school. He is the author of several books including his latest entitled “Yes Ma’am, No Sir, The 12 Essential Steps for Success in Life,” which chronicles his personal experiences that shaped him to be who he is today and provides key points to assist and show others how to lead more productive lives.
“The DHSHS students really enjoyed hearing the ‘real’ Coach Carter speak,” said DHSHS teacher Juldene Sims. “One of his statements really stuck out: ‘With talent, you can maybe get one of the 40 professional basketball jobs available each year. But by getting an education, you have a better chance of being an owner who will pay their salaries.’”
The presentation was funded by a grant provided by concert promoter Golden Voice intended to support youth programs in the Coachella Valley. Following a provided dinner, Carter spoke to the students for about an hour.
Joan Boiko is the Coordinator of Communications and Community Outreach for the Palm Springs Unified School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 416-6010.