Carr Remains Confident After Year One
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Mar 31, 2014, 07:23
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — Travis Carr didn't always see himself as the man along the sidelines imploring a team to victory. Instead, he envisioned himself on the basketball court or on the other fields on which sports are played, leading his own teams to victory.
However, as his high school career drew to a close, Carr realized he may not have what it took to play basketball at the next level. But he also knew he had a passion for the game which not many others have. He enjoyed watching games, but also dissecting the type of plays run by each team.
Carr also began to notice the type of impact a coach can have on kids by being a good role model while also keeping them productive on and off the court. It was at that moment, he knew coaching and teaching would be in his future.
"I just had a real enthusiasm for the game of basketball," Carr said of his decision. "And being a teacher, we don't teach for the money, so I wanted to make an impact for the kids. I do that in the classroom, but I also wanted to do that in the athletic side of things. Something just drives me to be a coach and trying to make them better people."
Yet, the road to being in charge of his own team was a lengthy one.
Carr manned the sidelines at Prince George High School for eight seasons as an assistant coach while patiently waiting for his own opportunity. But the wait may have also had its own benefits.
By being an assistant coach first — rather than being thrust into a head coaching role right away — Carr was able to sit back and learn from previous Royals' coaches like Dave Hettinger and get to know the players he would soon have to lead.
And Carr's opportunity came this past season in which the Royals suffered through a tough campaign, but finished strong to capture a berth in the Regional Tournament before falling to Henrico. For his part, Carr said the differences between being an assistant and a head coach were minimal.
"There's change and there isn't a lot of change," Carr said. "I was an assistant for eight years, so I know what was expected at the high school and in that position. The kids knew me, so all I had was a new title and I'm standing up the entire game rather than sitting down. So nothing really changed except having more responsibilities."
Those responsibilities included keeping his squad together doing some trying times over the course of the season. Prince George went through some early season highs — defeating Petersburg and also nearly knocking them out of the Fort Lee Holiday Tournament — but also some lows in last second defeats.
As the losses piled up, Carr managed to keep his team focused where most would have fallen apart showing a true test of leadership at the head coach position. It is one of the main reasons why the Royals stunned everyone in the Conference 12 Tournament to reach the championship game as the team slowly became a family.
"Being a guy who just got engaged and doesn't have kids, those are my kids," Carr said of his team being a family. "Those 15 boys, I treat them as they are my kids and I look out for them."
And it's very likely opposing coaches will have to look out for Carr's team next season as he returns a very talented core of players.
Prince George loses only four players from this past season's roster while returning players who matured over the course of the season. Sophomore Savonte Chappell expanded his game to the perimeter while being a double-double machine on the blocks.
Meanwhile, Chazz Jenkins may have the been the most important player during the Royals' conference tournament run with his energetic play and ability to create off-the-dribble. Even Shonquez Henry showed an improved outside shooting game and this is in addition to the steady play of point guard Cory Hill and impact players coming up from junior varsity.
"One of the things I thought was going to be beneficial for us going into next year was that we didn't play just five or six guys, we played a lot of guys," Carr said of the depth he had. "Guys got time on the court and that's very valuable ... I'm really looking forward to getting this group on the court."
Even as the school year comes to a close, basketball season can't come soon enough for Carr and the Royals. In just one year, he's realized part of his dream of being a head coach and came within one game of being conference champions. It's the type of impact he will continue to make as he expands his family one student at a time.