Quinton Carter: OU football player a rarity
But I may work in this profession many more years and never experience anything like I did Monday night.
It was Quinton Carter Appreciation Night at KinderCare in Norman.
Most folks know Carter as the All-American senior safety at Oklahoma, but to an active group of 4-year-olds and their parents, he is Mr. Q.
As soft-spoken off the field as he is hard-hitting on it, Carter adopted the 4-year-old class at the child care center earlier this year. He visited whenever he could, helping with projects and playing with the kids. Even though he was already heavily involved in community service – he has done football camps back home in Las Vegas for several summers, volunteered for many events in and around Norman, and started his own non-profit charity two years ago – Carter felt called to get involved at KinderCare.
It was easy to see why.
When he walked in the door Monday night, he was greeted by a chorus of toddler voices.
“Mr. Q!” they squealed.
There were hugs and pats on the head and smiles. Lots of smiles.
There were also tears. Lots of tears.
That’s how much Carter has meant to the kids and their parents, and before he leaves Norman for the NFL this spring, they wanted to tell him.
“He’s just been overall a very good role model for my son,” Taylor said of Carter. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life. You don’t see a lot of athletes doing what he’s doing.”
Taylor volunteered alongside Carter one day earlier this year.
“I almost lost my mind,” she said.
Carter, though, was cool and calm the whole time.
“You’re exactly the kind of person that our kids need to look up to,” said Johnnie Parnell, another mother. “I give you all the props in the world for what you do.”
On and on the praises went. From parents. From some of Carter’s mentors. From one of his teammates, Julian Wilson. From some of the KinderCare folks. Even a couple of us from the media had a chance to share our thoughts about Carter.
(I can’t tell you exactly what I said, but I hope it adequately conveyed just how rare Carter is and how much we could all learn from him.)
But really, little Kolton Southerland summed up the evening better than any of us adults could when he took the microphone and looked straight at Carter.
“Thank you, Mr. Q.”