Coach Carter Reflection: the Transformative Leadership
The Vision of Ken Carter
Coach Carter, based on a true story, stars Samuel L. Jackson as Ken Carter. Ken is offered a job coaching the basketball team at his old high school, Richmond High. He took over as a basketball coach to try to improve Richmond’s underprivileged neighborhood. His more important goal, however, was to motivate and guide the student-athletes on his basketball team.
Holding Athletes to High Standards
He has the athletes sign a contract stating that they can only compete in the Games if they attend all of the school’s classes and maintain an average rating. It also states that they must wear a suit and tie on match days and respect their teammates and coaches/teachers. Ken Carter uses a variety of different leadership styles (discussed in more detail later) to guide and motivate the team and help them on their journey to undefeated
state championships. However, Ken notes from the regular progress reports that most of his athletes are below average academically, thus breaking the contract they signed at the beginning of the season. At this point, you decide to take immediate action.
How it works
Coach Carter’s Radical Decision
In order to get the attention of his athletes and the local community and to ensure they recognize the importance of their education along with their sport, he is closing the gym and canceling all games until his athletes show an improvement in their academic grades. This act caused a colossal uproar and outraged the athletes, the school, and most of the local community. After much debate over whether to unlock the gym or support Coach Carter’s plan, the School
board of directors decides to reopen the gym and continue with the basketball season. Carter refused to uphold the message that education wasn’t important to athletes; he just wanted to guide them to success and make sure they didn’t demean themselves to fit the social norm of many Richmond-bred children, which often led to them being incarcerated or being killed. So he decided to quit his job, although he reconsidered shortly after.
Reflection on Coach Carter’s Influence
Recognizing the impact he was already having on the athletes at Richmond High, he understood the fact that he actually inspired and helped to change the lives of those involved. However, the athletes chose to refuse to play until their grades improved, further demonstrating the influence Coach Carter had had on them. After becoming successful students, the athletes only then returned to basketball and made their way to the state championships. They did not win the championships, but they did win the hearts of the Richmond community, and 6 of the athletes went on to college, of which 5 won scholarships.
Coach Carter. Directed by Thomas Carter, Paramount Pictures, 2005.