Bob Asmussen: Ex-Illini gets lift
Spend 10 minutes on the phone with Andrew Carter and you are going to feel better about life.
The former Illini has every right to be bitter. But that isn’t Carter’s style.
“I’m just blessed that I’ve got good health now,” Carter said. “I’ve got a degree from a great school.”
Once a promising Illinois offensive lineman, Carter was forced to give up football after being diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, which affected his hearing and balance.
The noncancerous tumor grew to the point that Carter couldn’t hear in his right ear.
An operation took care of the tumor but left Carter deaf in the ear.
“It was tough,” Carter said. “I felt I was getting into a playing role and I was about to make an impact on the field, then this happens. I had such great coaches that kept me a part of the team.”
The Illinois players have done a good job with it, too. As a player and student coach, Carter had an immediate impact on them. That feeling is mutual.
“He’s real caring,” Illini Joe Spencer said. “When I first came in, he was the first guy to help me out.”
Of course, Carter missed playing football.
“It was real disappointing when it first happened,” Carter said. “I played football for a long time. That’s why I went to UI, to play football.”
Carter, who came to Illinois from Florida during the Ron Zook era, has stayed involved with his alma mater. To honor Carter, the Illini will hold their third Lift for Life on June 27, with proceeds going to fight acoustic neuroma.
“It makes me feel great,” Carter said. “They’re still thinking of me and still doing this event. It’s helped out people in the past. I’m pretty excited about
Carter hasn’t allowed the illness to slow him down. Just 23, he is running his own Sherwin-Williams store in Morton.
“It’s a great company, and I love working here,” Carter said,
He already told his bosses he won’t be available to work June 27. He plans to be in Champaign-Urbana to cheer on his ex-teammates during the Lift for Life.
Carter won’t do any lifting himself. But he will help keep track of the reps by the Illini.
The loyalty goes both ways. It’s the kind of feeling an alum has for his school. It’s the kind of feeling a player has for his team.
Carter tries to make it to Illinois games as often as possible.
He is optimistic about the team’s chances in 2014.
“I think they are going to do really well,” Carter said. “I am excited for the team. We’ve got a couple new faces out there. Everybody is working really hard.”
Bob Asmussen writes three columns a week for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-351-5233 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.