Coach Carter entertains some, while others left uninspired

Besides bringing a message of thinking positively, coach Ken Carter, the man behind Samuel L. Jackson’s movie “Coach Carter,” didn’t just send his message from behind the podium. He got in the faces of audience members, even jokingly smacking around some male students who came to listen.

Carter’s eccentric demeanor during his speech Tuesday night in the OEC auditorium was to inspire character in the hundreds who attended.

“He was just messing around with people and trying to get people to lighten up,” freshman Sam Witt said. “It was a fun approach to keep the audience into it. It surprised me to see a speaker hitting people in the chest.”

Although there was a substantial amount of fun, Carter’s main goal was to give students the power and inspiration they need to succeed. He wanted students to be aware of opportunities, taking every chance they may come across.

“What you think about most, that is what you become,” Carter said.

Despite the coach’s upbeat message, sophomore Donnie Kneepkens was turned off by Carter’s stories.

“Coach Carter had many great points, but it seemed he was slightly conceited,” Kneepkens said. “The whole speech was directed towards his success with little to no credit to anyone else … Every story he told ended with the glorification of himself.”

Carter used his family’s low-income beginnings in Mississippi to better explain his personal philosophy.

“First, become successful; then other things will come,” Carter said. “Put information to use, because knowledge is not power, the use of knowledge is power.”

Carter said he believes that sometimes students think success comes when you gain things first, and he wants students to work on being successful then realizing everything else will come later.

He also said to accomplish anything, you need to smile, be tough and think positively.

“You control your path in life. You need to keep going and protect yourself,” Carter said.

Carter looks down upon nagging and negativity. In his eyes, nothing can be accomplished when you aren’t positive yourself.

With this approach, Carter said if you see it, you can be it and we all can be great.

“Greatness is defined by the service we to do others,” Carter said. “This gives everyone the same opportunity to be great.”

Carter even shared his secret of life with the audience.

“You need to live it now, because you can’t get out alive. Live it while you’re here,” he said.

Meg Tvrdik can be reached at