It’s no secret that schools are always looking to attract top talent when it comes to coaches and athletic staff. But it’s not often that a school gets so lucky as Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.

Poly Prep, which has its middle and high school campus in Dyker Heights as well as an elementary campus in Park Slope, announced last month that former Olympic heptathlete Kym Carter had started as the school’s new athletic director.

Carter, a graduate of Louisiana State University, qualified for the 1980 Olympic team and took part in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a high jumper, finishing 11th that year.

She also was the No.1- ranked American heptathlete at the 1996 IAAF World Indoor Championships. As a heptathlete, Carter competed in three running events, two jumping events and two throwing events, all carried out over two days. Day1: 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m. Day2: long jump, javelin and 800m. Heptathletes receive points in each event, according to a scoring table.i Carter finished second in the IAAF women’s heptathlon that year and took third place two years later at the 1997 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

At Louisiana State and the University of Houston, where she started her college career before transferring, Carter was a five-time college All-American and won two NCAA championships and six conference titles in Track & Field. She also was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2020—she attended high school in Wichita and set the National Federation of High Schools record for the high jump while there, clearing 6 feet and 2 ¼ inches.

Kym Carter in a Team USA uniform at the 1992 Olympics.
Kym Carter at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Photo: courtesy of Poly Prep Country Day School.

She brings this multi-althletic wealth of knowledge to Poly Prep, not just from her Olympic career but from years of track and field coaching at schools in Southern California.

The Olympian said she decided to end her athletic career after the birth of her boy-girl twins, who are now 23.

“I retired and I decided to stay home with my kids, which was wonderful to be able to do that, so I mainly was a stay at home mom for a number of years as they started off in school and then I just really became kind of that quintessential volunteer mom,” Carter, who was 34 when her kids were born, said.

As her kids grew older, though, she found herself getting back into athletics—this time on the coaching side.

“I really made the decision to kind of throw work into volunteering with school activities, and then if the opportunity would arise, I might try something part time, and some of that part timing was, I’d always been coaching, so then I was asked to do more and more private coaching,” she said.

It was a good fit for her, Carter said. It was work she enjoyed and that also gave her plenty of flexibility for devoting time to her family.

“I’ve really been lucky in that I’ve been able to make my own choices,” Carter said. “I’ve never felt compelled that if a situation wasn’t exactly right to me, I didn’t have to stay in it.”

Her newest role at Poly Prep, though is her biggest one yet, giving her the chance to oversee all sports at a school that says more than 80% of its student body are involved in some kind of organized athletics. Carter began her new job meeting individually with 27 different head coaches, the school said.

Monday, Aug. 22, was Poly Prep students’ first day back on campus for the new school year. And Carter said the poor weather that day—lightning near campus meant the boys’ soccer team was unable to practice outside, and none of the team members had thought to bring shoes for indoor practice—already gave her a bit of an chance to share some wisdom with them.

“The thing I shared with them is just the understanding of being flexible,” she said. “Having had the proper footwear, they’d be able to come inside and have a different workout than what they expected, but still be able to get some quality work in. You want to be the team that’s flexible, that doesn’t need everything to be perfect.”

She said for her as much as any coach, it’s helpful that she remembers exactly what it was like being in the students’ shoes and what they need to know if they want to succeed.

“I always tried to be that athlete who didn’t need perfect conditions to do well,” Carter said. “Those sorts of things, I’m happy to begin to teach the kids. I just feel like every single student athlete who puts on a Poly uniform, they’re one of my kids and I’m happy to share those experiences that I’ve had with them.”

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