Unique. Sincere. Unity. Truth. At first glance, these may sound like beautiful character words to live by, but they are the names of the four youngest of Ed Carter’s eight children. Although he did not grow up with a large number of siblings himself, Carter will tell you that he always dreamt of having a large family.
“I always wanted a lot of kids,” Carter said. “I wanted 10 actually.”
With five boys and three girls, ranging in age from 9 months to 21 years, the father of eight is intentional about being involved in the lives of each of his children despite the chaos and busyness of everyday life.
Both Ed and the children’s mother Brooklynn Swanagan hold full time jobs, while still managing to ensure that each child (with the exception of the youngest) maintains good grades and is involved in sports.
“Grades are number one.” Ed said. “They know without grades they can’t do anything.”
Originally, from Dayton, Ohio, Ed graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2003 after attending on a football scholarship.
“The only thing I ask them to do is go to school and get their grades,” he said. “I learned from my mistakes in college and taught them — use all your tools. College is not cheap — I don’t want them to graduate with debt. Grades are a big part of it, but if you can get a sports scholarship along with your grades, that helps.”
Ed’s oldest son Edwin has experienced the success of following his father’s advice. Edwin attended Brescia University on an athletic scholarship, graduated on the President’s List last year and is currently working for Southern Star.
The Carter-Swanagan children are involved in a variety of sports during multiple sports seasons including T-ball, football, baseball and basketball. And, according to local members of the community, the children don’t just play sports, they excel — due in large part to their father’s love and motivation.
KFL (Kids Football League) and Western Baseball League Coach Ben Barnoud said he has proudly watched as Ed cheered on “his overly-gifted daughter” in baseball and worked with Ed as he coached his younger two children.
“Ed Carter has always been such a great motivator, supportive coach and father,” Coach Ben said. “He shows how much he cares about each child, not just as players, but as kids who need help building confidence and good character. Every sporting event Ed Carter goes to, he is always doing something to show support and help others improve.”
Coach Ben said Ed has not just been a good role model for his own children and the kids he coaches, but for Ben’s children as well.
“He communicates the importance of hard work, competitiveness and being a good teammate,” Ben said. “He teaches them how to play the game and overcome adversity, while having fun and working hard. He has been a great influence and had a memorable impact on my kids and many others.”
Coach Ben is not the only coach to appreciate the impact Ed has had on children in the local sports community. Coach Russ with the Kentucky Ball Hogs basketball team said Ed has been with him since the team’s inception three years ago. The two coaches, who both had 11-year-old daughters at the time, quickly bonded.
“Ed’s just a fantastic dad and a good person — I liked him the first time I met him,” Russ said. “He has such a positive effect on people that his disposition rubs off on everyone.”
As far as Ed’s involvement with his children was concerned, Russ said the two often joke that Brooklynn has the children and Ed raises them.
“He carries around three to four kids with him all the time like a big Papa Bear,” Russ said.
While Ed recognizes the importance of being involved in each of his children’s lives, he also admits that meeting the demands of being at multiple locations at different times for various sporting events is not always an easy task.
“Every weekend we’re doing something,” Ed said. “There have been times we will go to a game in Nashville and then we’ll shoot to Louisville. Sometimes, they have games in different places and their mom goes one way and I go the other. It’s an all year round thing — it’s hectic, but it’s worth it.”
With ten individual schedules to keep track of, Ed said Brooklynn is the organizer.
“She is very organized and keeps a calendar of everything and where we need to be,” Ed said, adding that they often use the GroupMe app to communicate with other coaches who help out from time to time when needed.
Regardless of how chaotic it gets, Ed acknowledges the need to be present in the lives of his children and encourages other fathers to do the same.
“We do need more dads to step up in our community,” Ed said. “There are a lot of kids that need their dads involved. If there were more dads around, the kids wouldn’t get into the trouble they do.”