|MICHELLE CARTER |
Track & Field
It happens almost every time Longhorns sophomore Michelle Carter steps into the shot put or discus ring. A meet official will comment about a time they saw her father, Michael, compete in the same event. Never mind that Michelle is one of the world's best in those events in her own right. Lots of folks want to talk about her dad.
That should come as no surprise. The name Michael Carter evokes reverent tones among track and field fans. He was one of the world's best in the shot put in his era, and he still holds the national high school record set in UT's Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in 1979. He went on to a sensational track and football career at SMU and later was a three-time all-pro defensive tackle with the San Francisco 49ers.
"It's amazing how often it happens," Michelle said. "At almost every meet, somebody will come up to me and talk about a time they saw my Dad do such and such. I think I've heard all the stories by now. It doesn't bother me, and I don't get tired of it. I take it as a compliment."
It might not be long, however, before people walk up to Michael Carter and say, "Hey, aren't you Michelle Carter's father?"
Michelle began her athletic career at Red Oak High School near Dallas. She was undefeated in high school in the shot put and discus, and, like her father, she set a national high school record in the shot put. She won four consecutive state high school shot put titles and was second in voting for Track & Field News' Female Athlete of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Last summer she recorded significant international shot put titles with victories at the USA Junior and World Junior Championships.
"Obviously, I grew up in a sports home, and I guess it was meant to be that I would get into sports," Carter said. "I don't think it was planned. It just kind of happened. I always enjoyed competing, and it is very satisfying to do well."
Of course it helped to have a father who is one of the all time bests in your event.
"Dad taught me everything I know about the shot and discus," Carter said. "He taught me both about technique and about how to compete and about what it takes to succeed and how to conduct yourself. He told me a lot of stories about things he did, but he always told me that I would have to find out what works best for me."
Today Carter works hard at maintaining her place as a world class athlete along with the demands of being a regular college student. It's not an easy task, and she credits her Mom, Sandra, for giving her the ability to manage.
"Mom and Dad were equally involved in raising me, but it was always Mom who reminded me to keep a balance in my life," Carter said. "She was totally supportive of sports, but she reminded me that other things were important. She kind of kept me grounded and reminded me that I have God-given talent, that I need to recognize that and work that much harder because of that."
Carter is only 19 years old, and athletes in the weight events can have successful careers well into their 30s. Carter is not sure what awaits her after athletics, but her immediate goal is to keep adding to her trophy case.
"I don't know what it will be, but I am going to prepare for some kind of career for when I'm done with track," Carter said. "But right now, I just want to keep working and keep improving. I want to get to the highest level I possibly can."