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Legends Gala breaks another record, Carter opens up

By Bret Strelow. BOONE, N.C. — One question resonated with Omar Carter as he faced an uncertain future at App State.

Thinking back to that same question provided helpful perspective following a life-changing health emergency.

“Do you even want to be here?”

Carter, a standout for App State Men’s Basketball from 2010-12, served as the keynote speaker Friday at the 2024 Legends Gala: Forever a Mountaineer, presented by Double Wood Farm. The event raised a record $340,000+ and has raised more than $1.25 million in support of App State student-athletes since its 2017 inception.

App State athletic director Doug Gillin acknowledges someone in the crowd at the Legends Gala, June 28. Photo by David Katzenmaier

Carter was one of six individuals recognized as a legend, addressing a large crowd that included fellow legends Katie Boyd (softball), Lindsay Edmonds (women’s basketball), Jerry Harmon (football), Mike Ramsey (baseball) and Kate Ward (soccer).

Carter earned all-conference and all-district honors as an App State junior in 2010-11 before leading the team in scoring as a senior in 2011-12, but the transition wasn’t smooth following his transfer from Charleston Southern, where he had averaged 14.4 points over his first two Division I seasons.

when asked the question, Carter lowered his head and started crying…

Dell Curry’s endorsement of Carter, a Charlotte native, to then-coach Buzz Peterson played a big role in Carter’s relocation to Boone, and NCAA transfer rules at the time forced him to sit out the 2009-10 season.

After struggling academically during his first semester at App State, Carter met with academic advisor Jean Roberts — Miss Jean — and was asked a direct question.

“Do you even want to be here?”

Carter lowered his head and started crying, but Roberts quickly reassured Carter that he would succeed if he followed her direction and advice.

“That’s the Appalachian way,” Carter recalled Friday. “We have coaches, educators, our parents — everything that’s in this room. That’s everything I thought about on the way up here, how she pretty much saved my life.

Former App State football head coach Jerry Moore shares a moment with his former quarterback, Armanti Edwards, at the June 28 Legends Gala. Photo by David Katzenmaier

“We as athletes are tested through our studies, through our social life, through our performance, all while trying to balance all those things at once. As athletes we are afforded the opportunity to learn to work through trial and error, whether that’s as a cohesive unit or as one. You learn focus and perseverance and dealing with adversity. That’s what I was dealing with at the time. I believe these are all the ingredients that this great university taught me as July 9, 2013 came about.”

That’s the Appalachian way.

Carter, who played professionally overseas following his App State career, was on the court back in Charlotte during the summer of 2013 when he suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

Unconscious on the court, he received CPR for 13 minutes until an emergency transport arrived. Carter ended up in a local hospital on life support and in a medically induced coma, but he fully recovered and later founded the Omar Carter Foundation with a mission to prepare others to assist in the case of a cardiac emergency.

“I remember leaving the hospital,” Carter recalled, “sitting in my room for a month or two, and the thing that came back in my mind is what Jean Roberts had told me. ‘Do you even want to be here?’ This was outside of App. This was life, and this is what she had groomed me for.”

Those impactful words from Roberts contributed to more success, with a grateful Carter sharing his incredible story to the attentive crowd of App State-affiliated guests Friday night.

This was life, and this is what she had groomed me for.

Charley Belcher emceed the annual event, with Director of Athletics Doug Gillin making introductory remarks in the Grandview Ballroom of the North End Zone facility. A fireworks show beyond the south end zone of Kidd Brewer Stadium provided entertainment following a live auction that included contributions that will increase scholarship support for App State student-athletes.

“We get a lot of good friends together, we get to celebrate legends and we get to hang out and break bread together with friends,” Gillin said. “That’s what being a Mountaineer is all about.”


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