Spending time with Carter Atherton is always memorable. Whether in the hallways, in the jungles of Panama, or in the stands of the Alfred T. Taylor Field House - Carter is a presence that is remembered. So when it came time to pen his much-anticipated Senior Feature piece, it seemed apropos to ask him what times he would remember most from his years at Cape Henry Collegiate.
"A time capsule? Okay." he replied to my request that he put together a time capsule to remember his 14 years on Mill Dam Road. Having arrived in Pre-Kindergarten, Carter had moments from each division including "state championship games, middle school lacrosse, the Panama trip, and the lower school field days."
When asked how he would capture those moments in a time capsule, Carter knew he would include items representing his prolific sports career - his Cape Henry lacrosse helmet, his soccer cleats, and a basketball. "These items would just allow me to look back on my sports days in middle/upper school. Also for sure, I'd put George Selemaj's "Please Don't Stop The Music" by Rihanna soundtrack in there."
Carter's three year run as part of the State Championship Varsity Boys Soccer team created memories that will stay with him for years to come. "My favorite athletic moment was winning each state championship," he shared. "My sophomore year was awesome. I did not play a lot of minutes...(and) usually, I would be mad that I didn't get a lot of playing time, but looking at Grant, Matt, Reed and Jack Bailey ahead of me, just for one spot, I knew it was right for me to play behind them. We had this camaraderie and brotherhood on the teams, so that is why it felt so good to win for Matt and Sebas and Bryce and Wlad and George and John. I knew and saw how hard they worked and how much they wanted to win,... When I got to my senior year, the team at first didn't have the drive but watching players like Gavin, Kyle and Matt McGraw lead, inspire and have the drive, to put forth effort ... was just awesome.
My best memory wasn't on the field but creating the bonds with the players, and celebrating after the final whistle of the season."
Carter's athletic memories and moments are not only found on the soccer pitch. He also speaks fondly of his time on the lacrosse field; specifically, Middle School lacrosse. "Middle School Lacrosse...I loved middle school lacrosse. When I was in 8th grade, most of my friends chose to stay on the MS team, and not play JV. This was such a fun season because for most of the games we just dominated everyone. Also, it was the last chance to play with eight graders that were not going to play lacrosse in high school."
Times with his teammates and classmates are what Carter values and cherishes most. Those times aren't limited to the athletic arena as evidenced by his fond memories of his time in Panama last summer as part of the STRI program. "Panama, oh Panama... Panama and I have a love-hate relationship. (During the program) I created connections with many people that I never thought I would. I mean, who would have thought that Ben Scott would personally show me how he thinks "Enter Sandman" goes...(or that) I would be shaving Allie Johnston's eyebrow, but I did. Panama was not like any experience I have ever had... the main (lesson) I learned while on the trip was the importance of relationships and honesty."
Relationships and honesty. Community and integrity. Carter Atherton embodies these Core Values of Cape Henry Collegiate. But he also embodies the motto of his soon-to-be new home in Blacksburg, Virginia. "Ut Prosim", the motto of Virginia Tech, means "That I Will Serve." Carter says, "Cape Henry always tries to teach the students more than the answers to test questions. They teach us the importance of service and leadership. Cape Henry tries to push us to lead and serve, and I know VT will help me continue to grow in that area as well. I like to be a part of service here at CHC and in our community. The k5k race has helped and taught me a lot."
The k5k Race was started to honor and celebrate the life of Carter's Mom, Kendra R. Atherton, and to raise money for a scholarship fund in her name to benefit college-bound high school seniors who have lost a parent to cancer, and who display the qualities possessed by Kendra. Carter continued, "Seeing kids who have been affected through the race and its scholarships -- I cherish working with k5k. We gave scholarships to children who had both academic and personal achievements as well as who needed the scholarship most. Giving to people who are in need, and some scholarship winners who were definitely in need, felt great."
Moments on the field, with others, and in the community are all part of what makes Carter a Legend at Cape Henry Collegiate. As he prepares to join his siblings in Blackburg next fall, there is but one moment remaining that needs recognition in his Time Capsule.
"Lower School Field Day?" I asked.
"Field day was just pure fun as a lower schooler. It was competitive and fun."
Competitive and fun. That is Carter Atherton. Pure Fun.
Congratulations on all you have done, given, and have yet to become, Carter! And, of course, Go Hokies!