Coaching is a large responsibility and dealing with student-athletes on a daily basis can be challenging and push someone to their limits, but for Ian Carter, coaching is a blessing.
For four years, Carter has been the head track and field coach for the women’s and men’s teams at Montclair State University. This year he was offered a position on the football team. He accepted this offer but would continue to coach track and field at the same time. Carter saw this not as a challenge, but as an opportunity.
“They asked me if I would be interested in helping out and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to diversify myself,” Carter said. “It’s been really nice this year to come in and see how a different program is run. I think it will be beneficial for me to evolve as a coach.”
Carter was named as the outside linebacker coach, a position he is familiar with, as he played it in college for the Rowan University Profs. He has used his past football experience to connect with his players. These connections have made his first season go much smoother than expected.
“Player-wise I’ve made some really good bonds on the team,” Carter said. “Players like Al Woods, Jake Colon, Nick Burgess and Jazz Merricks, those guys have made it easy for me to transition over.”
Junior defensive back Woods spoke on his personal connection with Carter and described how he has been able to regain his confidence under Carter’s coaching.
“I struggled at the beginning of the season with confidence in myself, and he helped me instill that [back] in myself,” Woods said. “It was more one-on-one stuff and just pulling me aside and going ‘I was there too, I was in your shoes before’ and just walking me through it and talking me through it.”
Carter’s ability to relate to his players has created strong chemistry amongst the position group, and his rapport with his players has been getting noticed by other coaches, particularly associate head coach Mike Palazzo.
“He’s great with relating to the kids,” Palazzo said. “As a former college player, even though it wasn’t at Montclair State, he knows what those guys are going through day in and day out. He knows what it takes, he knows the work that goes into it and the preparation.”
Carter certainly knows the work it takes, and he has made hard work a key point in his coaching, constantly preaching the value of showing up each day and giving your all.
“I try to bring that intensity each and every day and let them know [that] every day counts, every day you don’t get back,” Carter said. “Time never moves backward, it’s always forward. So take advantage of each and every day you come out here.”
While Carter maintains a good relationship with his players, they definitely understand the level they are expected to play at. These expectations have fostered a great culture amongst the group, with a “next man up” attitude being cultivated.
“I would say in our position group we have a lot of guys that know what they are doing, and we have a lot of depth,” Woods said. “I had to move from outside [linebacker] to inside [linebacker] and [Colon] stepped up a lot.”
Carter hasn’t just made bonds with his players, he’s made bonds with other coaches too. None more obvious than with the previously mentioned Palazzo, who has been crucial in making the transition as smooth as it can be.
“We’ve been friendly and close for years, it’s been great because he knows me,” Palazzo said. “It wasn’t like I had to introduce him to coaching and introduce him to me. He knows who I am, he knows what we’re trying to do on defense and he’s a great person to have on the staff because he’s a great part of the operation.”
Halfway through the season, Carter has enjoyed every minute he’s been on the staff. He views this whole experience as truly special.
“Surreal, I think back to where I was four years ago around this time and to see where I am now, it’s just a blessing man,” said Carter.
But to Carter, he’s just getting started. There’s a lot more work to do, and he’s the man to do it.
“I’m just excited, but I’m hungry for more,” Carter said. “I want more. I want to strive for greatness with whatever I do and continue to push these kids to be the best they can be. I think that’s what my calling is.”