“Get up early and stay up late — work when it hurts,” Coach Ken Carter, an education activist, business owner and former high school basketball coach, told UNH students Wednesday evening during his lecture, “Average is Just Not Good Enough”  in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building (MUB).

Carter, whose basketball coaching at Richmond High School in Richmond, California, inspired a Hollywood film, titled “Coach Carter,” offered students motivational advice for success.

Samuel L. Jackson portrayed Carter in the 2005 Hollywood production after Carter’s coaching became noticed in 1999. Carter’s story was unique not only because of his game-winning coaching, but because of benching his entire team due to their grades.

Carter’s talk was the last of the MUB’s Current Issues Lecture Series for the academic year. The lecture involved active participation from the primarily student audience and was accepted with laughter throughout the hour-long event.

Upon projecting a video including clips from the film and Carter’s past TV interviews, Carter surprised the audience by entering behind them, blowing his whistle and stopping the video. The energetic entrance from Carter gained the audiences’ attention and prepared them for his life-coaching session.

“Enough of that, it’s time to get busy,” Carter announced as the video clip was stopped.

Carter began his talk by exclaiming the one thing he hates the most: “chronic complainers,” a term that he associates with anyone not willing to work harder when presented with difficult circumstances. 

Carter maintained the audience’s attention throughout by calling on individuals to use as examples, and on two occasions asked two students to perform five and 20 pushups in front of the audience.

According to Carter, one of his philosophies on life is that people must have stories.

“Life is about stories,” Carter said. “You gotta have stories to tell.”

“What is going to be your legacy?” Carter asked the audience.

Aside from requesting pushup demonstrations, Carter gave one student a $20 bill, used students as examples for an interactive discussion and signed autographs.

As for more lighthearted advice, Carter told students: “You gotta laugh at yourself. Don’t worry about always being politically correct. Just have fun.”

“These are your good-old-days. It don’t get much better,” shared the former coach.

Carter also offered words of encouragement for college students. He spoke on the importance of investing in a college education.

“There’s a thin line between this thing called great and greatness,” Carter said.

Carter advised the audience members to always be “life-long learners.” He also stated, “You have to be a great follower to be a great leader.”

In between motivating and inspiring advice, Carter shared his own experience as both a high school girl’s basketball coach and a boy’s basketball coach.

The lecture ended with a brief Q&A session and the opportunity to take a picture with Carter.