New MVHS football coach pushes Spartans to 'next level'
From behind reflective gold wra-around shades, with beads of perspiration dotting his shaved head, Toure Carter intently watches as a group of about 40 young men sprint the length of the Mountain View High School football field.
"Pick it up!" Carter bellows, urging the varsity squad to push themselves. Some of the players pitch their heads forward and run harder at the coach's command.
As the team reaches the end zone, several of the athletes fall to their knees, chests heaving for air, and a member of Carter's coaching staff chimes in: "Stand up," the man demands. Though the boys have just run 100 yards at full steam, there is little time to rest before they will be told to rush back down the field again.
Carl Anderson Field would likely have been empty this time last year, and the players — both on the varsity team, as well as on the freshman-sophomore team — may have been playing video games or working a summer job. But that was before Carter signed on as the Spartans' head coach.
Since December, Carter has kept his players out on the field building their endurance, or in the gym lifting weights. This summer, the teams have been working out for about three hours every weekday afternoon. And according to the players, the new work ethic is making a difference.
"The work ethic is definitely a lot different than with our last coach," said James Tilton, a varsity defensive and offensive lineman entering his junior year. "Coach works us hard every day. We haven't had a day off this summer. It's going to improve us a lot."
"Players respond to him really well," said varsity quarterback and incoming senior, Mike Butler. "The players are better motivated."
Carter describes himself as "just a kid from Cleveland, Ohio," who worked hard and was lucky enough to catch a break.
Carter never knew his father and says that his mother was on drugs for much of his youth. But the childhood that could have easily swallowed him up only served to make him stronger, he said, as he realized at a young age that he would have to be the one to take care of his family, especially his younger sister.
His can-do attitude kept him going through high school, where he says even his own football coach never believed he would amount to anything. He proved his coach wrong, attending and playing football at Ashland University.
He was picked up by the Cleveland Browns and played briefly in the franchise's training camp, before he was released. Out of the NFL, Carter moved on to arena football where he played wide receiver and defensive back for a variety of teams, including the Colorado Crush, the Austin Wranglers, the Utah Blades and the San Jose SaberCats.
Since leaving arena football, Carter has coached high school football teams in Ohio and locally.
His experiences growing up playing football in high school, college and professionally inform his attitudes about coaching today. He hopes to be the coach that he never had in high school — to encourage all of his players to find their own potential.
"Who am I to tell a kid he can't be a doctor or an astronaut or play college football or play professional football?" Carter asks rhetorically. "I can't do that. It's up to them, and that's the tradition we have here. ... That's what I believe in. I believe that every athlete has an opportunity to better themselves by playing at the next level."
When Carter refers to the "next level," he is not only speaking about athletics. He is also referring to the next step in his players' academic lives, and he says he works hard to ensure that football "opens doors" for every player on his team.
"I'm looking to play football in college," Butler said, "and (Carter) has been a big help with that — calling coaches, calling colleges, letting them know I'm out here, just informing them about me. He has a lot of connections."