The film 'Coach Carter' premiers today in theaters throughout the country. One of coach Ken Carter's coaches will be among those in the first-day audience.
'I'm looking forward to it,' says Tom Hewitt, the radio play-by-play voice of Portland State football and basketball, who's also a teacher and golf coach at Marshall High. 'We've talked about Kenny in my classes. We'll be taking the whole school Ñ or as many of the kids who want to go Ñ to see the movie.'
In 'Coach Carter,' Samuel L. Jackson portrays the coach who made national news in 1999 when he locked his undefeated Richmond (Calif.) High team out of the school gym in order to force his players to improve their grades. Carter banned all basketball-related activities and was prepared to cancel the rest of the season because 15 of 45 players were not living up to the classroom standards they had agreed to in preseason contracts.
The upshot: the Oilers, 13-0 at the time of the lockout, forfeited the next two games, but after players got their academic standards in order, they went on to make the state tournament.
The coach's bold move received nationwide media attention and eventually drew interest from Paramount, which cast Jackson in the lead role.
Carter played the 1980-81 season at George Fox, where Hewitt was a young assistant coach. A JC transfer from Contra Costa (Calif.), the 5-10 point guard averaged eight points and three assists in his only season with the Quakers.
'It was a good situation for me,' Carter, 44, says on the George Fox Web site. 'It was good to go to a small town like Newberg. The structure was nice, and they treated me well there. I was only there for a year and a half, but I left feeling like I was one of the smartest men in America.'
Hewitt's only season at George Fox Ñ he moved on to become the head coach at Concordia the next year Ñ was memorable in part because of his bonding with Carter.
'I had been a point guard, too, and I was still a young guy, so we took a liking to each other,' Hewitt says. 'I remember going to Blazer games with Kenny. He was very talented and fancy Ñ there was probably a little too much mustard on the hot dog. I could have seen him playing with the Globetrotters. He was that kind of guy.
'I knew he would be good working with kids. He had that kind of personality. We did some grade school clinics in Newberg that year, and he related real well with the kids.'