Class of 2010
As a long time state legislator, Tommy Carter helped pass many bills in the Alabama State House of Representatives. However, on a certain night in the winter of 1952, Carter was the starting center on the Clements High School basketball team and passing wasn't on his mind. His Colts teammates were the ones in charge of passing the basketball to him and Carter's responsibility was to shoot. And shoot he did as he finished with a school record 55 points against Elkmont in the first round of the Limestone County basketball tournament to lead the Colts to an 83-62 victory.
The 2010 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee says that was a good night. "Coach (Robert) Witt was the coach at Elkmont and you could hear him scream all night throughout the gymnasium," laughed Carter. "I shot the ball well from the field but I couldn't hit any of my free throws. I didn't see it as a great individual achievement or anything. I was just a kid playing basketball."
Basketball was indeed the first sport that young Tommy Carter excelled. He was introduced to the sport at old Blackburn School by Coach John Ed Parker. "He showed me how to shoot the basketball. That was exciting for an old country boy. We played Ripley twice in the sixth grade. Once at their place and the other time at Blackburn," said Carter.
While Carter was never impressed with his personal achievements in the sport, others in the Clements community thought otherwise. Johnny Black was an elementary school student when Carter played for Clements. The long-time Limestone County coach remembers being in awe of Carter. "Tommy Carter was like a larger than life figure to me," said Black. "I don't mind saying that he was my hero. He was just a great athlete."
The 1952-53 school year would bring a change in Carter's life. Encouraged by the opportunity to play football at a larger school, he transferred to Athens High School for his senior year. Carter had to sit out the first two games of the football season due to transfer rules but helped the Golden Eagles finish the season with a 7-2-1 record. "We had a team full of good players who were determined to win," said Carter.
One of his former Golden Eagles teammates Baxter Booth said Carter was one tough player. "Tommy was just a big, tough, physical football player. When you consider Tommy had never played football before, he was just unbelievable. He could do it all on the football field," said Booth, a 2007 LCSHOF inductee.
Carter lettered in four sports at Athens High School (football, basketball, baseball and track). He averaged 18 point per game in basketball while earning All-TVC honors.
The 1950's was a great decade for the Athens High School football team. The program produced many players that went on to play college football and Carter wasn't an exception. He became the first Athens High School player to sign a football scholarship with Auburn University. Carter played two seasons for the Tigers and Coach Ralph (Shug) Jordan.
While at Auburn, he roomed with two football players who would later obtain great success in different professions. One, Vince Dooley would become the head football coach at the University of Georgia. The other, Fob James would one day become the governor of the state of Alabama. When later their paths crossed again in Montgomery, Carter says he would kid James. "I told him that I made him what he is today," joked Carter.
Carter would transfer closer to home after his sophomore season at Auburn as he enrolled at Athens College (now Athens State University) to play basketball. He became a two-year starter for Coach Lloyd Stone and the Bears.
Upon completion of his playing days, Carter became a basketball official. He officiated high school basketball games in Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties for five years. Carter coached an Elkmont women's fast-pitch softball team that didn't lose a game in three years and coached the first pee-wee football team in Elkmont as well.
He served on the Limestone Board of Education from 1964-1970 until he first ran for state representative. Carter would win the election and every other election for the fifth district (Limestone County) until he retired from the state legislation in 2006. While serving as a state legislator, Carter helped secure funds for booster clubs, band boosters and athletic facilities for all schools in Limestone County.
Carter says the one thing he learned while playing and coaching sports that assisted him in the political arena was patience. "If you aren't patient in politics, it will eat you alive," said Carter.
Tommy Carter was never one to bring notoriety to himself opting instead, to maintain the humbleness that he has carried since a little boy growing up in the Blackburn community. What accolades Carter won't admit, others will say for him. "Tommy Carter was a great asset to Limestone County," said Black. "He did a lot of wonderful things for the schools and people here. We were very fortunate to have a person like Tommy representing us in Montgomery."