For the past 28 years, thousands of Mississippi high school and college athletes have been impacted positively by the words and actions of Scott Carter, the Southeast Director for USA Youth Outreach.
But before his days of working with young athletes, Carter was an impressive athlete in his own right. He participated in four sports at Hatley High School and played basketball at Itawamba Community College and Millsaps College.
In 1990, Carter graduated from Millsaps, and in 1992, he married Michelle Cowart, also from Hatley. He pursued his lifelong dream of coaching at various Mississippi high schools, including Clinton High School, St. Joseph Catholic School, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Amory High School, Tupelo Christian Preparatory School, and Hatley High School.
Carter thoroughly enjoyed coaching, but he soon realized that the games he had always loved as an athlete and a coach were just the beginning of his life story. For him and the young people he coached and mentored, the end game in life is what mattered most.
So in 1996, when God called him into full-time ministry, Carter answered with an instant, resounding “yes.” Within a few months, he became the North Mississippi Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Carter’s wife, Michelle, supported his answer to that call, and her encouragement has never wavered despite his long hours away from her and their four children, Savannah, Drew, Eli, and Bo. They will all readily attest to Carter’s constant devotion and dedication to his calling, often working simultaneously as a full-time youth pastor and in sports ministry.
As a result, while working with FCA, Sports World, USA Youth Outreach, and other ministries, he has spoken to an incalculable number of young people at churches, homes, and civic arenas, always sharing the Gospel message of boundless love and hope freely found in Jesus Christ. And the young people who heard his messages will confirm that Carter has an unbelievable gift of relating to them right where they are – and keeping up with them long after their playing days.
Maybe it’s because he is so honest about his lifelong pursuit of Christ, including the good times, the hard ones, his strengths, and his weaknesses.
He often laughs and says that, like many Mississippians, he spent almost every night of his childhood in a church pew. But he also readily confesses to living a double life early in adulthood, sometimes compromising his beliefs outside the walls of home and church.
That double life did not last long because the loving voice he first heard and recognized as an eight-year-old child playing in the cotton fields and piney woods of Monroe County never let him go.
In fact, on a warm October night in 1995, at a Promise Keeper’s convention in Dallas, Texas, Carter listened as Dr. John Maxwell spoke on “The Three Chairs,” explaining the generational tendency for families to slide further and further away from God. In that instant, he heard God specifically call him to “the generations.”
From a back row at the very top of Texas Stadium, he immediately ran to answer that call, spontaneously spurring hundreds of other men to join him as he ran.
At the temporary altar erected in the Dallas Cowboys’ endzone, the exact spot where he and countless little boys from around the world had dreamed of being, Carter completely and forever surrendered everything he was and ever hoped to be to the will of God.
The entire direction of his life changed at that pivotal moment in 1995. But looking back almost three decades later, Carter sees that moment as only a beginning.
From that world-famous endzone, God has led him to share equally life-changing moments with thousands of young athletes in locker rooms, baseball diamonds, and football endzones across Mississippi and the nation. And in those moments, God helped Scott Carter share the best game plan of all – eternal salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.