Leading by Example: Atascocita jumps coach Chris Carter competes at Olympic Trials with plenty of support
HOUSTON – The night before Chris Carter was set to compete for one of three spots on the United States Olympic Track & Field team in the triple jump his phone dinged.
It was a text message from Jaden Patterson.
"He sent me a message the night before that said 'Hey coach, go out there and handle your business, be confident, make sure you have fun and I'm proud of you no matter what. I'm blessed to have you as a coach'," Carter said.
"That really touched me because he sounded like me. That's something I would say to him."
Patterson, who is a University of Kansas-signee, is one of Carter's athletes he coaches at Atascocita High School in Humble, Texas. In fact, just a month ago, Carter was at the University of Texas watching Patterson win the Class 6A State Championship in the triple jump.
On Monday night, the roles were flipped as an athlete was watching a coach on an online stream at the University of Oregon compete in the Olympic Trials for a spot in Tokyo.
"Having that bond with your athlete and being able to motivate them that much to where they can feel what you do and feed off your energy, it's special."
Carter, who competed in college at the University of Houston, competed in the finals of the men's triple jump competition in what was his third Olympic Trials.
The 32-year-old Carter after his second jump of 54-feet-10 ¼ inches took over second place. His mark held him up in the top three through the fourth attempt.
On his fifth attempt, Carter felt like he had a monster jump that would have won the competition but was called for a foul, and in the end after everyone had six attempts, he finished fourth overall. One place away from Tokyo.
"This year was different, obviously with COVID, so I already had to wait five years," Carter said. "I was hungry. I really wanted to go, and I knew I had a really good chance to go. In the fifth round, I had a jump that would have won the competition, but I was over [the board] by less than a centimeter.
"So, knowing that I missed the Olympics by something that small is not the easiest thing in the world."
Carter, who started coaching at Atascocita High School back in 2013 and is now an Assistant Cross Country and Track & Field coach, had a little watch party going on for his jumps.
On the team Twitter account photos were posted of the team gathered at Atascocita track & field head coach Todd Symons house watching him compete.
"Having my athletes getting together and watching and having that support through texts, calls, and social media posts, it means a lot," Carter said. "It makes me feel like I'm doing it for something."
AHS Coaches Todd Symons & Karyn Lacour, along with members of AHS Boys Track and Field, gather together to cheer on Coach Chris Carter as he competes in tonight's finals of the Olympic Trials! Catch the coverage on @KPRC2 tonight at 10 pm. pic.twitter.com/nDc3R6Y538
— Humble ISD (@HumbleISD) June 22, 2021
Symons told KPRC2: "He does a lot for the school. He does a lot for these kids behind me and he just means the world to all of us. He got fourth and did a great job. We're so proud of him, it's unbelievable."
With his athletes watching their coach go for the Olympics, Carter hopes that they take away a few different life lessons.
"I hope that they understand that you can do everything right, work as hard as you can and still fail but you have to be able to bounce back and learn from it," Carter said. "You have to enjoy the experiences because you don't always win, you don't always succeed. But if you enjoy the journey and learn from it, you'll become stronger and take that to other avenues of your life."
Carter continued: "Sometimes they put me on a pedestal but sometimes they see that I get nervous just like them. I'm on the biggest level and I get nervous. I struggle through workouts sometimes. But you just have to keep going, keep believing in yourself and stay consistent.
"When they see me do it, it makes my job a lot easier because they believe it for the most part."
So, what's next for Carter?
The next Olympic Trials won't roll around again until 2024 when the summer games will head to Paris and if Carter decides to make another jump for the Olympics, he will be ready.
"That's a long time off, I'm just going to take it day by day," he said. "I'm 32 now, so this was perfect for me. But with technology, proper treatment, and proper diet, I could make it to the next Olympics. If I do decide to go for it, I'll be hungry. I'll be motivated."