Coach Ken Carter tells his players that “average is just not good enough, period,” referring to his newly acquired basketball team’s performance, both on and off the court. Inspired by true events, the character of Coach Carter is based on the coach of the Richmond High Oilers’ basketball team from Richmond, Calif.
Though the season ended with a disappointing 4-22 record for the Oilers, the team finally starts to see some change for the better in the form of Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson). Carter doesn’t mess around. Right away, he establishes some ground rules: practice is at 3 p.m., if you’re here at 2:55, you’re late. No one receives special treatment, not even his son, Damien Carter (Robert Richard), who is also on the team. There’s no favoritism here, and Damien gets the same punishment for showing up late, just like the rest of the team.
While Carter seems more like an army sergeant than a high school basketball coach, he has good intentions. He gives the entire team contracts to sign stating that they must maintain a 2.3 GPA in order to play for the team. He works them hard because he wants them to be winners.
Fast forward a few weeks into Carter’s new profession and, despite the team’s undefeated record, numerous team members have already broken the contract by failing their classes. Carter enacts a lockout from the gym until grades have improved and even threatens to cancel the entire season. The community responds with anger and wants Carter ousted. The team’s family and friends feel as though basketball is all the team has going for them. Carter tells them that “these are student athletes … student comes first.”
“Coach Carter” is a powerful movie with a great cast, each member giving an excellent performance. We get to see this team grow up both mentally and physically, from a losing team to a winning team, that also achieves academic greatness – with several team members going off to college. Coach Carter said it best when he told his team, “I came here to teach boys, and you became men.”