For the last two decades, Tommy Carter has been involved in Auburn High athletics in some form or fashion. Now, Carter has added the role of head coach to his repertoire.

Carter was officially hired as Auburn volleyball coach on Tuesday night. Carter takes over the Lady Tigers’ volleyball program after spending the last three years as an assistant with the team.

Carter began following Auburn volleyball when his daughter, Anna Kate, began playing as a seventh grader. When she was a senior, Carter became an assistant coach, which allowed him to get more involved in the program. Anna Kate has since gone on to play volleyball at Coastal Alabama Community College and has signed to finish her career at the University of Mobile.

Carter’s experience as an assistant led him to seek the head-coaching position once it became available, ultimately leading to his promotion.

“It’s an honor, and I appreciate the opportunity for sure. The girls who have been in the program the last several years definitely deserve the recognition. They’ve worked hard. I’m just looking forward to working with them. I’ve been involved with the program as a parent and as a coach,” Carter said. “I really realized I enjoyed being around the girls and being around the program. This opportunity came up. I put my name in there, and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity and look forward to it.”

Carter has been involved at Auburn since 1998, when he became an assistant baseball coach under Matt Cimo. He was also an assistant football coach in the late 1990s and early 2000s before focusing solely on baseball in order to have more time with his family.

The Tigers’ baseball program has been tremendously successful during Carter’s time as an assistant, as Auburn won state championships in 2009, 2010 and 2018.

Auburn City Schools athletic director Dan Norton explained that Carter’s tenure coaching various sports at Auburn made promoting him an easy decision.

“Tommy’s experience as a coach, his time at Auburn City Schools and mainly the interactions I’ve seen with him and our student-athletes (convinced me),” Norton said. “He’s been a part of some very successful programs here at Auburn High School, and we’re excited about what he can bring to that program as he leads it.”

Carter said the volleyball program has been growing every year for the last five years, which has him excited about the future. In addition to having varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams, Carter said the growth could warrant splitting the middle school team into separate seventh- and eighth-grade squads.

Carter credited the team’s previous coaches who have set the foundation for a program that reached the Class 7A quarterfinals in 2019. Now, it’s about taking it to the next level.

“It is really an exciting time. The girls really work hard, and I just look forward to it,” Carter said. “The goal every year is to win the area championship no doubt. From there, it’s making it to the state tournament, and that’s what they’ve done the last two years. Our job is just to build on that, shoot for that same goal and go even farther. That’s the ultimate goal.”

With sports on hold, Carter is like so many who is patiently awaiting the go-ahead from the AHSAA to resume offseason activities. He is eager to get the team back together as soon as they can safely do so as he steps into his new role and looks to lead the team to new heights.

“Whatever sport it may be, it’s a way to be around your teammates and be around the girls. That’s what I’m most looking forward to — to be around them through the ups and downs, to watch them pick each other up and work together as a team and have good relationships with them,” Carter said. “Every day I come to practice from a long day of teaching and see the smiles on their faces and to hear them say, ‘Hey, coach Carter,’ it’s just priceless.

“That’s what I look forward to: being around them and everyone working toward one common goal.”

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