Words: Jeramy Stavlas
For the past three winter and spring sports seasons at Centennial High School, senior Connor Carpenter has been seen on either the court or the field, playing big roles for the school’s basketball and lacrosse teams. His impact on Centennial’s sports teams goes far beyond his play on the field though, as his help with Centennial’s Allied Soccer team is much more meaningful to him than any goal he could ever score.
After playing for the JV Soccer team his first two years at Centennial, Carpenter was cut from the team his junior year. With nothing to do that fall, Carpenter contacted Allied Soccer coach John Spaide, Carpenter’s former JV lacrosse coach, and asked to start helping out with the team. Since then, Carpenter has spent his time working with the team and giving the players a more comfortable school experience.
Serving as an assistant coach, Carpenter directs the players on the field, sets up the goals, and helps out with water.
“He’s been a great asset to the team,” said Spaide, who will miss him after he graduates. According to Spaide, Carpenter has exceeded all expectations set when he started to volunteer.
When Carpenter first started to help out, he didn’t think too much of it.
“As I was a part of it more, it was less about helping them, and more so just becoming friends,” Carpenter said.
From greeting the players and giving them high fives in the hallway to staying after school every day for their practices and games, Carpenter has developed a closer friendship with the players than he ever thought he would. “I enjoy it, you know? I do it because I enjoy it.”
Carpenter takes tremendous pride in his friendship with the players, and it’s evident to the people around them that they share a special connection. “I definitely can tell his relationship with the students has grown tremendously over the last two years,” said Spaide.
As the players search for somebody to look up to in their lives, Carpenter fits a mentor role perfectly. His positive influence on the team goes far beyond soccer, and affects the way they act in their everyday lives.
Carpenter’s help with the team has shaped him as a person and created an experience so valuable to him that it will live on with him for a long time. “I help them, but really they help me. They give me more friends and make me happier, so it’s been more impactful on me than I feel like I’ve impacted them,” Carpenter said.
Along with his volunteer work for the Allied Soccer team, Carpenter volunteers at Grassroots Crisis Intervention once a week. At Grassroots, he plays outside with homeless kids and children of families with drug addictions and financial needs that live in the center.
Carpenter also serves as an intern in West Baltimore two to three times a week at a non-profit organization called Harlem Lacrosse, which focuses on developing children’s character and helping them stay in school. Carpenter’s work with Harlem Lacrosse is part of the Intern/Mentor program here at Centennial.
His experience at Grassroots and Harlem Lacrosse has been very different than his service within the school as it shows him more aspects of life than he had previously been exposed to. It’s reshaped his morals and helped him realize that he finds true joy in helping less fortunate people.
”It means so little to us because my life is very different, but for them it can mean everything. Just appreciating the little things from another person’s perspective,” he commented.
In his free time, Carpenter is almost always volunteering at the programs if he is not doing schoolwork or working on his college applications. The commitment and dedication he puts into his volunteering make it evident that he truly does care about the people he helps.
According to Carpenter, his main focus in his volunteer work is purpose: doing his best to benefit other people, knowing he won’t gain anything out of it himself besides a good feeling in his heart.
“I don’t do any of this [with] the expectation that something is going to be given back to me,” Carpenter said.
In the future, Carpenter plans to continue volunteering for different organizations and charities throughout his life. He would like to attend college near a city so that he is able to stay active in volunteer work, and continue to help whatever community he is near.
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