Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New EA coach wants to bring stability to job

Coaching is in Mandi Carter’s blood.

Carter was recently hired as Escambia Academy’s girls head basketball and softball coach for the varsity and junior varsity teams. She will also serve as the athletic director for girls sports at the Canoe School.

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Carter, an Atmore native, graduated from EA in 2004.

She played basketball and softball at Faulkner State Community College and attended Auburn University. During her time at AU, she helped EA alumnus Chad Pruitt during his stint at Lee-Scott Academy. Pruitt is the current director of basketball operations at AU.

While her experience as a coach is limited, Carter said she’s excited about the opportunity. She’s had the chance to see a lot of the girls play already. For the past nine years, she’s worked at Atmore Industries in the industrial park.

“A lot of the girls I see, I’ve watched them play,” she said. “They’re in our (Atmore First Baptist Church’s) youth group and I’ve seen them around town. I’ve coached them in our city league.

“Parents and coaches said that’d be great if you could get there (to be a coach),” she said. “My hold up was that I didn’t have a teaching (certificate). This fell in my lap; a job opened up in teaching and coaching. I just knew that this was right for me. It had been on my heart for a while. It had all fallen into place.”

This will be Carter’s first year as a high school coach.

She said her coaching philosophy is based on a hard work ethic.

“My philosophy is that we’re going to work hard because with hard work comes a lot of reward,” Carter said. “We’re not going to slack off. We’re going to be 100 percent all of the time. We’re not going to win every game, but if we have the job behind us, we’ll go far.”

When asked what she likes about coaching the most, Carter said it’s about seeing the girls grow in their roles.

“I really love the relationships with the kids,” she said. “I love to win. Winning’s not everything. It’s really watching the girls grow in character and see a lot of them after school and how they act. I like to see them and what they do in life, and how they become as far as women.”

For most of the older girls, Carter is their latest coach in a string that has spanned over the last several years.

Carter said she wants to bring a sense of stability into the program.

“I want to help give them a direction, especially my juniors and seniors,” she said. “I hate that I’m coming in at the tail end of their career.”

The most important aspect of coaching she learned from Pruitt was the need to get things done, which is something she’s going to bring to EA.

“I had that good foundation on how to get things done,” she said. “It’s going to be rough. The program was built up and has kind of gone down. I know it’s going to take more than one year.”

Carter has a deep love of sports, and her mom and grandmother were coaches.

“I love all sports,” she said. “It’s the team aspect of it. To get out there and work hard and do something and see the kids do something you taught is worth it. It gives me that satisfaction that I might have made a difference.”

Carter is married to Frank, a Flomaton native. The couple has one son, Jonah, 5.