Olympian Michelle Carter Urges Young Girls/Teens To Nurture Individual Skills, Goals and Dreams
“When You Look Good…You Feel Good and You Will Do Good” –Two-time Olympian, American Record Holder, 7-time USA Champion – Michelle Carter
HOUSTON – Even before Michelle Carter won fame and critical acclaim as an Olympic hero, she was already making a difference in her community by motivating young African American girls and others in minority communities to discover their talents.
“I want young girls to develop confidence to see they can do,” Carter told the African-American News&Issues in an exclusive interview. “Many of them can do anything they put their minds too. I want each of them to see and believe they can and can be the very best at what they decide to do.”
Carter is the founder of You Throw Girl Sports Confidence Camp, a sports camp that focuses on the complete female athlete through confidence building and athletic empowerment. Also, as owner of Shot Diva’s Makeup, She’s a firm believer in bringing beauty on the inside out.
Raised in Texas, She attended Fellowship Christian Academy, Red Oak Jr. High and graduated from Red Oak High School in 2003.
Daughter of shot putter, 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist and San Francisco 49ers nose guard, Michael Carter, Her father, Michael, is still the standing national boys’ prep record of 81-3.5, set in 1979. Michael and Michelle Carter are the only father-daughter duo of their kind.
Carter received a full track scholarship to The University of Texas, where she graduated in 2007 with a degree in Youth and Communities Studies, and a minor in Kinesiology. Making a name for herself, she has been featured in Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, ESPN, Network, ESPN The Magazine, NBC, The Sacramento Bee, Track and Field News in addition to many others. Michelle Carter is also a certified Professional Makeup Artist with a passion for beauty. Michelle uniquely blends her passion for throwing and beauty, forming the name “ShotDiva”.
One of her favorite quotes is “When you look good…you feel good and you will do good”.
Carter, has excelled at the national and international level of track and field for more than a decade.
Her secrets of success started at a very early age where she discovered that she could compete and achieve at high levels regardless of her size or shape.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Her interest in sports started playing basketball, but one of her coaches saw talents beyond round ball and talked to her about track competition.
“It (shot put) was not on my radar,” she said. “I was into basketball and a coach recognized my talents and skills and asked me to try out for track and I did. I happened to be good at it, stuck with it and built on it.”
In the process, she was exposed to the shot put competition – and has never looked back since.
Carter was also a stellar athlete in high school who won four back to back 4A track and field championships in the shot put and discus, garnering the state record in discus. She also is the former national girls’ prep record-holder in the shot put at 16.73m/54-10.75.
“I did not choose the shot put life,” she said “The shot put life chose me.”
She said after realizing how she excelled in that area and how she was fit for the sport, she started developing it and it changed her entire life and how she viewed herself.
She said it helped her develop a healthy sense of self esteem and an identity that gave her a winning attitude and desire to win.
“I don’t knock things until I try it out,” Carter said. “I was open-minded and that openness has allowed me to step forward, achieve and do things that now have taken me to new and higher levels I could have never imagined had I sat back and watched.”
Her parents also had a positive influence on her, but in the end it is the challenge from the inner self that makes the difference.
She said too many youth stand by on the sidelines and never give themselves a chance to explore and achieve their dreams.
“I enjoyed it willing to learn it and be my best at it,” she said. “It all starts with being willing to try things and allowing that inner challenge to succeed motivate you,” she said. “You have to want to work you have to want to go through the pains, practices and trials in order to be the best. It may seem difficult but it will pay off in the end.”
CHAMPION’S MESSAGE ON THE FIELD OF LIFE
One of her greatest passions besides Shot Put competitions happens on the field of life, where she is actively involved in being a role model for young girls and a motivator promoting youth achievement.
“My passion is strong in this areas because I am older and work with youth and have found is that
many do not have confidence in themselves and are unwilling to try new things,” she said.
“It is sad to see great talents and abilities and dreams not realized, because an individuals are struggling with believing in themselves.”
She also pointed to the dangers of entertainment, magazines, television programs and commercials and social media painting pictures of what they define and want people to believe success looks like.
“My parents worked to help me develop positive confidence in me and that helped me grow stronger and more committed to completing my dreams and goal in life,” she said. “They told me “I Can” and once you believe that, you go out there and make it happen – Every young woman needs to understand – Yes You Can!!!”
Another message Carter seeks to share with youth is that today’s social media and entertainment images out there are fantasy, not real life.
It is clear that at 5’9 and 260-pounds, she has not allowed social stigmas and stereotypes to rule and govern her success or life.
“Do not try to live up to expectations that are not real life expectations,” she said. “Everybody is different and every BODY is different and that’s OK,” she said. “You work with what you have and you love yourself first. Create your own set of personal expectations for your life and do not mesh yourself with some fictitious person. Love who you are.”
Carter added that these so-called projections are influential and dangerous and can damage and even kill.
“I want young girls and teen girls to understand the difference between what is real life and what is not real life and understand your own positive talents, skills and abilities in everyday life,” she said. “You have a lot to offer the world.”
She said her message is the same to youth where ever she goes speaking or doing confidence camps.
“They can do it and I want to be involved in helping them develop that positive sense of can do,” she said. “I want to make a difference by helping provide them with the knowledge, focus and confidence they need to accomplish the dreams and goals they set for themselves in life – whether it is a sports goal, Olympic goal or a life, college or career goal.”
FUTURE OF WOMEN BRIGHT
As more social and economic barriers fall and career fields and pay become more equitable, Carter believe the future for woman is bright inside and outside of sports.
“For women, the sky is the limit,” Carter said. “When you fight to break down barriers, you open the way for the next woman coming behind you to stand up and fight to get to the next highest level. The barriers that one breaks, releases the next woman to break the next barrier.”
She also sees the gains for woman at the 2016 Olympics translating into opportunities in other career areas.
Carter believes the Olympic games started a chain reaction affect that feeds off each the winning experiences and she expects that more women will excel, not only in sports, but also in fields of science, research, medicine and business.
“I see it everywhere,” she said. “I see a women finding cures, inventing and creating technology and doing many other great things because this brings out things from inside of people to the outside because you see it can be achieved.”
FOCUS ON FUTURE
Carter shared the next stages for her life – Her Hopes Dreams and Goals
She is preparing herself for more Shot Put competitions.
“I have a desire to be the best I can be,” she said. “Once a competitor always a competitor.”
However, Carter made it clear she will also focus on doing sports confidence camps and speaking to different groups around the country to spread her positive message.
“I am trying to make difference and I’m excited about that,” she said. “I see opportunities and doors opening and we are ready for whatever is available beyond life with the Shot put.”
BY: Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
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