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Andy Carter is new Trojan cross country coach for boys and girls

Andy Carter, a 1983 graduate of New Castle High School, is the new head coach of the Trojan boys and girls cross country teams. Carter is pleased with the quality of the runners he has his first season, but would like to see more girls become part of the team.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

A familiar face has taken over the reins of the New Castle High School cross country program for both the boys’ and girls’ teams.

That person is Andy Carter, who has helped with both the cross country and track programs over a number of seasons.

“Actually, I never thought I would get the opportunity to be a head coach,” Carter said, “even though I have been involved with coaching for a long time. But last spring, Coach Sean Kennedy told me he was looking for a position elsewhere for personal reasons, I decided to apply for the coaching position when it became open, and I got it. I’ll miss Sean, because I think he’s a great coach, but he found a position near West Lafayette and I’m looking forward to my new opportunity here.”

Carter has a long history of running.

“I started running when I was 13 years-old,” Carter stated. “I ran four years of cross country and track here in New Castle before graduating in 1983, and then went on to run four years at the University of Indianapolis from 1983 to 1987. I did some coaching of running when I lived in Florida for a time.”

Carter explained how he made full circle and came back to coach in his hometown.

“I returned to New Castle but didn’t coach initially,” Carter explained. “But when Dave Pryor stepped down as head coach of cross country in 2003, I was asked if I was interested in becoming an assistant coach and I agreed to do it.” I was an assistant coach for the girls under Coach Ron Grimes for a number of years.”

When Kennedy was hired as head cross country coach, things didn’t change much.

“When Sean was hired as boys cross country coach, I continued to assist Ron with the girls and some with the boys under Sean,” Carter said. When the decision was made to combine to have one cross country coach for both the boys and girls, I became Sean’s assistant. So I guess I had the inside track to be head coach if I wanted it after he left. I’m now starting my 17th year with the program, but my first as head coach.”

Carter is not a teacher with the New Castle school system, but his full-time regular job enables him to devote the proper amount of time to his coaching duties.

“I work for the federal government in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” Carter explained. “I provide computer support for all the VA hospitals around the country. I work from home and get up early and work that job up until it’s time for practice. After practice, I go back to work at home, finishing up what I need to do for that day.”

Carter has been working with his new team since the end of last school year, which include summer workouts and a camp that was held last week.

“We took the team to a camp in northern Indiana last week for some workouts and team bonding,” Carter stated. “At the end of the week, one of our runners said that we were like a family now, which is nice to hear.”

Carter talked a bit about his current team.

“I really like having both the girls and boys as one team,” Carter noted. “They get to run together, become training partners, and can challenge each other to get better. I guess you could say we are rebuilding, because all of our girls are new to the varsity this season and we graduated four very good boys this past spring.”

Carter mentioned that the nucleus of this team was formed over the summer during workouts.

“We had seven to nine boys who consistently showed up for workouts this summer and two girls who did the same,” Carter remarked. “Summer workouts are important because that is when we do some of our ‘basic training,’ as we don’t have the time to do some things a whole lot once regular practices and the regular season starts.”

A lot of that training involves speed work and endurance work, which are important when running a cross country race.

“Our home course has some hills as do other courses,” Carter said. “We took our runners out to the area around Red River Road for some training. Running on Tara Lane proved to be challenging workouts for our runners.”

Carter has an adequate number of boys on the team, but needs at least one more girl for the girls to score as a team in meets this season.

“Right now, I have 19 boys on the roster who have shown an interest in being on the team,” Carter remarked. “Many of them already have shown up for the first practice and the rest may also after school on the first day. We have just four girls, and I’d like to have more.”

Carter talked a bit about his attempts to get more girls to run high school cross country.

“We have two really talented freshmen girl runners, Ella Garvin and Lydia Harvey, and we’re confident they can be among the top finishers in meets,” Carter said. “We have four girls, total. I have reached out to 14 girls this summer, telling them they would be good additions to our team. But all of them have indicated they either are going to be involved in other sports or activities or don’t have a desire to run cross country.”

According to Carter, Ella Garvin does club gymnastics year-round and will be juggling cross country practices and gymnastics practices several times a week.

New Castle graduated two senior girls off last year’s team and two others on the team in 2018 decided not to come out for cross country this year.

“I’ll keep trying to find at least one more girl who wants to run so we can field five girls for a meet,” Carter noted. “But I’m more focused on the runners who want to be here and want to participate than I am concerned about the ones who aren’t here or don’t want to be here. I don’t believe in forcing an athlete to compete in a sport if he or she doesn’t want to.”

Carter talked about some of the goals he has for his first team as head coach.

“Of course, we’d like to win every meet and do as well as we can,” Carter said. “But my primary goal is to have every runner enjoy the sport and complete the full season injury-free. Sometimes injuries happen and you can’t do much about it, but proper training and conditioning can help ward off some injuries from occurring.

Finding an assistant coach was one thing Carter wanted to do once he became head coach, and he thinks he has found a good one.

“I asked a few people, but they weren’t really interested,” Carter remarked. “Then I went to Mr. (Shane) Osting, our athletic director, and asked him if I could hire my wife Amy as an assistant coach. She’s a runner and a physician in town, and would be an excellent person to have on the staff to help ward off injuries.

According to Andy Carter, Amy Carter has been a runner since age 11, ran varsity cross country at Zionsville High School, and ran for a college down in Florida. Apparently the two met each other through running.

“Cate Brock will be one of our assistant coaches until she goes back to college Labor Day weekend,” Carter stated. “Cate was one of our standout New Castle runners who graduated a couple of years ago. Cate will be a junior in college. Cate has been running with us and assisting all summer.”

Carter considers himself a hands-on coach, not just as a coach who tells those on his team to go out and run and then selects the fastest ones to run during a meet.

“There is a proper way to prepare to run a race and I intent to teach that,” Carter explained. “We have speed training, endurance training, aerobic training, and anaerobic training. But running a cross country race is mental, too. You have to develop a mindset on how you want to start the race, where you want to be in the middle of it, and what you want to do at the end of it. When we do an exercise, I not only tell my runners how to do it, but why we do it.”

New Castle has just two home meets this season. The first one is the season-opening “New Castle Hokum Karem” on Tuesday, Aug. 20 and the second is the New Castle Invitational on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

“When I was in college, we ran a Hokum Karem at Wabash College,” Carter said. “It was Sean’s idea to bring it here and it involves teams of two people running a six-mile race. One person runs the first mile, the other person runs the second, while the first one rests, and they continue to alternate with one-mile runs until the six miles are completed. We’re still finalizing the details for it, but right now we have 10 schools signed up and it’s a fun way to start the season.”

Carter is excited to get the new cross country season underway.

“Our team has been working hard over the summer,” Carter added. “These are great kids and a group the community can be proud of. We’d like to see folks out to support us this coming season.”