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Boys of the Gridiron: Chris Carter
Posted On:
Friday, October 25, 2013
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This article was posted on October 23rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 33

Boys of the Gridiron: The Sun profiles four of Northern Santa Barbara County's standout high school football players


To some, a football stadium is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. The plush grass is green, chalked, and waiting for the welcome wear and tear of cleats. The scoreboard stands ready to light up numbers powerful enough to make or break a team. While the bleachers wait to come alive with the spirit of the crowd, the lights illuminate everything and bring an indescribable magic to the most sacred of places.

A football stadium is a pocket in the world where anything is possible. In high school football, the stadium is an icon for the community and a home away from home for players. In this place, boys of the gridiron feel the power of victory and learn to accept failure with grace. It is a place where heroes are born, memories are made, and boys transform into men before our very eyes.

The football brotherhood is strong on the Central Coast, with a number of athletes making names for themselves, their schools, and the community. This week, the Sun introduces you to four football players from Righetti, Lompoc, Nipomo, and Pioneer Valley high schools. Nominated by their coaches as standout players, these athletes are making their own magic under the lights and proving that they are more than just the numbers they put up.

Chris Carter, Pioneer Valley High School

Around his wrist, Chris Carter always wears a blue rubber bracelet—to school, in games, it is always with him. For Carter, a senior football player at Pioneer Valley, this bracelet is a constant reminder to do all the things his late little brother can no longer do. It is a driving force behind his performance on the field.

Last year, Carter lost his 3-year-old brother to stage-four neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. An unwavering commitment to his team and an enlightened spirit kept Carter from missing any practices during that difficult time.

“I made a commitment to my team,” Carter said. “Death is a part of life. It’s tough, but life goes on, and the world doesn’t stop when bad things happen.”

With this amount of dedication, it’s easy to see why head varsity coach Dan Ellington chose Carter as his most standout player this season.

Playing tight end and defensive end, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior has racked up 24 tackles on the season. Ellington said Carter has improved tremendously at the defensive end position with a toughness that can’t go unnoticed in football.

“He is a technician who understands his position. You know he will work hard,” Ellington said.

He said Carter’s athletic physique, long arms, and good field vision make him an above-average athlete. While all of these traits make this senior a wonderful player, it’s Carter’s character that Ellington admires most.

“Character-wise, he is the best kid I have ever coached,” Ellington said. “He is a team captain and I give him a lot of responsibility. He is a really unique individual on and off the field.”

Plus, Carter comes with all the intangibles—coachability and being able to overcome his own mistakes.

“The team really looks up to him; everyone says they want to be like Chris,” Ellington said.

Defense in particular is a good fit for Carter because he craves the reaction.

“Defense is all reaction and animal instincts—you have to overpower whoever is in front of you,” Carter said.

He added that he’s the kind of player who understands the importance of working hard to achieve goals.

“I didn’t do very well my first three years of football, but I knew I could accomplish anything if I worked hard,” he said.

For this athlete, his football team is his second family and his teammates are his brothers—something he is reminded of every time he dons his teal and black uniform.

“A uniform is something that distinguishes you and associates you with something,” Carter said. “So you want to do good. It’s a reminder that this is your family.”

Coming into this season, Carter’s goals were simple and as selfless as the player himself.

“I wanted to help my team and be the best player I could be,” he said. “I wanted to be a good brother and friend.”

As a captain, Carter said he tries to be the light for the team by always keeping his head up and staying positive. Off the field, Carter’s stellar character shines through in his church activities, his 3.8 GPA, and his role as an Eagle Scout. Ellington said that if any player can go on to play at the college level, it would be Carter.

The senior said he has learned a lot about life from football—dedication, perseverance, and respect—all things he plans to take with him.

“Football is a great sport that teaches boys how to become men,” Carter said. “Whatever I end up doing, I want to continue making a difference in the world.”


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