By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
People jammed shoulder to shoulder Wednesday to watch Marcus Carson sign a piece of paper. A paper that said he would play baseball at the University of Kentucky. It is a rare honor, but what it said on the paper was not as important as the person signing it.
“Marcus has definitely put the work in and worked on his skills. You won’t find a better role model to represent North Laurel High School than Marcus Carson,” North Laurel Coach Darren McWhorter said. “If they would have let all these kids out of class, they could have filled the gym up and every kid would have wanted to be there just because of what kind of kid Marcus is.”
They did let Carson’s teammates out of class. Many wanted to get pictures with him wearing a UK hat and flashing his trademark smile. Again, it wasn’t so much about a little white ball with red stitches. It was about the person inside the player.
“He’s been a great student athlete and a role model for the campus,” Athletic Director Jimmy Durham said.
There’s that phrase again “role model.” It’s a couple of words put together that mean people are watching you. Like Santa Claus, they know if you’ve been good or bad so be good for goodness sake. If it were that easy, we would all be Tim Tebow.
“I’ve just got to carry myself when no one else is looking the way I would whenever they are looking at me. You’ve just got to keep being a positive influence and keep on the right track,” Carson said.
It is part of what got Marcus Carson to UK.
Coaches will tell you Carson is God-gifted. His quickness and instincts made him better than most when he first picked up a ball, any ball. He stars as well on the basketball team and would have starred on the football team, if he played.
It’s funny how things come around in time. Someone in the crowd called it karma. Carson’s dad, Mark Carson, had the same gifts about three decades earlier at Laurel County High School. Football cost him much of his potential as an athlete when he blew out a knee as a freshman. Injuries would also end his career at Union College.
“He was a freak athlete. He just got caught by the injury bug,” Marcus Carson said.
While Mark Carson’s legs may have been injured, they would still be able to get him to every game his son played. If Marcus played an early game, his dad would go to work at 3 a.m. so he make the game. Mark coached Marcus, supported him, and steered him away from football.
“They always tell me that I am just like him. My dad thinks he is better than me, but I don’t know about that,” Carson said with a smile.
We will never know who was better, father or son. We do know that the story of Mark and Marcus Carson will have a happy ending for both. We don’t know when it will end.
“One day I hope to make it to Major League Baseball and make something bigger of myself than I am right now,” he said.
There will be a lot of people cheering him along the way.