Courtesy to South Mountain High School Yearbook
Jack Carter: An Amazing Athlete
February 17, 2018
Many high school teams have a star player. Back in the 1958, South Mountain High School’s state champion track team had Jack Carter, who joined the track team simply because he liked to run.
“My freshman year, I just tried out for it and it worked out for me. I wasn’t a very big boy. They called me Bird Legs a lot of times,” he said. “Best time of my life was [at] South Mountain. Got in trouble a few times, but I enjoyed it. The teachers were good. Campus was good.”
After attempting to play football, Carter realized the sport wasn’t for him.
“I could not remember the plays. After about a week or two, the coach waved me [over] and said, ‘Jack, why don’t you do us a favor and turn your suit in.’ Junior year, he was begging me to play football and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to play football, you didn’t like me to start with.’ So, I stayed with track.” Carter laughed.
Carter admitted that, back in his high school days, he was a prankster.
“I would buy those smoke bombs … and put them into the teachers’ cars, my friends’ cars, my girlfriend’s car, and everyone would be freaking out,” he said. “But everything was good afterwards. I love to make people laugh. You’ve got to have fun you know?”
South’s track team wasn’t segregated in the 1950s, but that wasn’t a problem for Carter.
“They were my best friends, all of them,” Carter said. “We backed each other. We didn’t argue. We were competitive, but not against each other. I loved every one of them.”
However, Carter said it could be challenging working with Coach Bob Shuster.
“Coach Shuster … he took me under his wing. I guess he was like a father to me. He made me workout pretty hard. That was a challenge right there. Life is a challenge, you … can pretty much master if you work at it.”
Looking back at the 1958 state championship team, Carter recalled how Richard Thompson, currently a track coach at South, was there for him at the finish line on the final leg of the 400 relay team.
“Boy them last few steps … I don’t remember at all. Ol’ Richard was there to catch me as I came across the line,” Carter said. “Bless his heart. I’ll never forget him for that.”
Thompson recalled Carter as an amazing athlete.
“We had one guy that was very outstanding,” Thompson said. “His name was Jack Carter. He won the 100, the 200, and the 400.”
To the students at South today, Carter has the following message.
“Focus on the positives. Ignore the negatives. And get on with it,” he said. “Everyone falls down. You just have to get back up.”