Leading by Example: Atascocita jumps coach Chris Carter competes at Olympic Trials with plenty of support
22 Jun, 2021
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."
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It is awards season here at VYPE!
We welcome you to the Countdown to the 2021 VYPE Awards presented by Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Over the next two weeks, we will be unveiling the finalists for the player of the year awards. Team and Coach of the Year awards will be announced LIVE during the Fourth Annual VYPE Awards.
The winners will be honored in a one-hour virtual show on Sunday, June 27 at 6 p.m. on VYPE Houston's website, Twitter account and on the VYPE Texas Facebook page and YouTube Channel! It will be an event to get dressed up for and to tune in to as it will be an evening full of special moments!
Let us get it started! Here are the finalists for Public School Men's Golfer of the Year!
GOLFER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Alex Papayoanou, The Woodlands
The Woodlands' Alex Papayoanou had a score of 2-under 142 to tie for seventh and lead the Highlanders to a fourth-place finish at the UIL Class 6A Boys State Golf Tournament. Papayoanou shot a 2-under 70 in Monday's first round and followed that up with a 72 on Tuesday. The Woodlands finished with a team score of 588, just one stroke short of a podium finish as Austin Vandegrift shot 587 for third.
GOLFER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Jeffrey Zatorski, Memorial
Jeffrey Zatorski is a two-year captain of Memorial High School's golf program. He earned first-team all-state honors from the Texas Association of Golf Coaches (TAGC) during the 2019-20 season and is the No. 7-ranked player in the state of Texas for the 2021 cycle. He's committed to the University of Texas.
He won the Regional Tournament this spring and tied for 11th at state.
GOLFER OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Bowen Ballis, College Park
College Park was led by freshman Bowen Ballis all season. He finished second at the district tourney firing a two-day score of 143 (71-72). He finished tied for 14th at state as a freshman. Wow, what a future he has in front of him.
Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is Houston's leading provider of orthopedic services, from sports medicine to joint replacement. Houston Methodist offers comprehensive diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative services with a high standard of excellence for elite athletes, active adults and student athletes. Houston Methodist serves as the official health care provider for the Houston Texans, Houston Astros, Rice Athletics, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera.
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Carl Abseck fondly remembers growing up in Bridgeport, a small, quiet town in north Texas. As a young kid, he excitedly awaited game days for the local high school football team. Abseck could buy a ribbon for a quarter at his elementary school and wear it to Friday night games.
"Everybody comes out and it's a community celebration," Abseck said.
Abseck never forgot that feeling. So, when Tom Westerberg recently resigned as head football coach and athletic director at Barbers Hill to take over as athletic director at Hays ISD, Abseck, the longtime, impressively successful Cedar Park High coach, jumped at the opportunity to head to Mont Belvieu.
After 16 years at Cedar Park near Austin, including the last six as head coach, where he led the Timberwolves to a 71-10 overall record, a 2015 Class 5A state championship and a 2020 Class 5A state final appearance, Abseck finds himself back in his element at a one-school town, hoping to lead it to the championship glory he knows well.
"One of the biggest things was, as a coach, having done this for 24 years, I've always worked at a multi-school district," said Abseck, who was also an assistant coach on Cedar Park's 2012 state title team. "I've always wanted to coach in a situation where you had one high school that was supported by the entire community, from the time they're in Pre-K to the time they graduate. It felt like a good challenge to do something new."
Cedar Park High is a part of the six-school Leander Independent School District. Cedar Park has a population of 74,000-plus. Mont Belvieu is a blossoming town of 5,800-plus that lives and breathes the blue and white of the Eagles.
"From the standpoint of having been somewhere for 16 years, we talk to our kids all the time about challenging themselves. For me, it's practicing what I preach," Abseck said. "We had a lot of success at Cedar Park. It's a great community and administration. But there's a lot of things about Barbers Hill that made it attractive. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone, and I haven't done that. Definitely not as a head coach."
Abseck met with Barbers Hill coaches and players during a three-day stay last week, just two days after informing Cedar Park players he was leaving. He also met with the city's leadership board.
"A lot of people are from there, went to school there and have come back after college and doing their things because it's a great community," Abseck said of Mont Belvieu and Barbers Hill. "The schools are A-plus rated. It's booming with new houses and commercial development and is becoming a really attractive area on that east side of Houston. People don't stay if they're not happy and don't feel respected and treated well. It's just a happy, enjoyable place."
Another aspect of this new chapter for Abseck is that he will also be athletic director. The job shares similarities to his role as athletic coordinator at Cedar Park High, where he oversaw a bigger athletic department than he will at Barbers Hill. Abseck said he's excited about every one of the Eagles' athletic programs.
Barbers Hill ended the 2020-21 school year in style, as the baseball and softball teams each won state titles.
"I have a responsibility to other programs to give them the necessary tools to be successful, be present and be supportive," Abseck said. "A lot of that, I've done, so for me it'll be about learning the protocols and how they do things at Barbers Hill and the budgets and guidelines that are set up."
On the football field, Abseck is confident he has the recipe to bring a consistent, winning standard to the Eagles, who have only been past the second round of the playoffs once in the last 10 seasons and did not make the playoffs four times over that span.
Offensively, Abseck expects to be difficult to prepare for. The Eagles will be multiple, based out of a one-back set but also versatile enough to go with a two-back alignment, trips (three receivers to one side), or empty (no backs) if need be. Barbers Hill will attack vertically and horizontally and be diverse in running and passing.
Defensively, Abseck said he will be base out of a three-down front and be ultra-aggressive in getting to the quarterback, throwing in zone blitzes and pressures with man coverage.
"At Cedar Park, we talked all the time about having a blue-collar mentality in a white-collar world," Abseck said. "There's no substitute for hard work, and that's where it starts. We're going to practice hard, we're going to prepare hard and we're going to play exceptionally hard. Kids will show up on time, do their job and be extremely coachable."
But that's all for later. For now, Abseck is busy selling his house in Cedar Park and moving to Mont Belvieu. Within the past week, he went from Cedar Park to Barbers Hill and back to Cedar Park in what has been a busy, hectic transition. Abseck also has a kid going off to college soon, so he's ready for that as well. He's been putting the miles on his vehicle, certainly, but it's been worth it.
"It's been a whirlwind," Abseck said, "but it's been really fun to meet all these people who are proud Eagles."
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