Before Michael Jordan was making Bryon Russell fall with a killer crossover and draining the go ahead jumper to win his sixth NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was a skinny, determined athlete dominating the competition at Laney High (Wilmington, N.C.).
Before Adrian Peterson was trucking opposing defenses and racking up 2,097 yards in a single season for the Minnesota Vikings he was shining bright under the Friday night lights at Palestine High (Palestine, Texas), averaging 12 yards a carry and scoring 32 touchdowns.
Before any athlete can become legendary they have to lay their foundation in the high school ranks.
Each week I’ll chat with a high-profile athlete’s former coach, mentor, family member, etc., and reminisce about their high school playing days; everything from the greatest moment to the wackiest story.
I caught up with Michelle Carter’s high school track & field coach at Red Oak (Red Oak, Texas) Hope Porter.
Carter earned the gold medal in the shot put at the Rio Olympics with her throw of 20.63 meters (68 feet, 8 1/4 inches).
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of Michelle at a meet in high school?
Hope Porter: I guess it would’ve been her first state championship as a freshman because that was my first state championship in track. She was my first state champion. It being a first for both of us made it pretty memorable.
JJ: What’s your best memory of Michelle away from the track?
HP: She babysat my children when they were younger. Later my daughter was Player of the Week in the newspaper and one of the questions they asked was who does she see as a role model and she said Michelle. She told the newspaper that I always referenced Michelle when I was trying to motivate them. She’s very special to my children.
JJ: Did you know she had this star potential from the beginning?
HP: Actually, yes, I did. I knew her father Michael as a 49er, but I didn’t know about his track & field accolades. I can remember locking up the track at the end of the day with the sun going down and she’d still be out there with her dad running through more drills. I’d keep hearing him yelling, “Just one more time!” I always knew she had the dedication and the work ethic to make it happen and she’s a natural born athlete. I was not shocked at all when it happened; I always knew she could do it.
JJ: What talents did she have away from sports?
HP: She sung in the choir. Michelle has a great voice!
JJ: What personality was she on the team back then?
HP: She was a silent leader. She was always doing the right thing; first one there and the last to leave. All the kids saw that and respected that. She led with her actions.
JJ: Obviously she’s reached the pinnacle; do you see her repeating in the 2020 Olympics with another gold medal.
HP: Wow! I think if she puts her mind to it she could definitely do it. There’s a small part of me that thinks that she’s ready to excel in other endeavors since she has reached the pinnacle, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if she puts her mind to it she could certainly repeat.
Here’s how Michelle Carter won gold.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY