He played three sports at Philip Simmons High School and was a member of numerous school groups including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the National Honor Society.
But, it was membership in another group that Carter Ensley would like to forget, but will remember for the rest of his life. He was on the Senior Board at PSHS.
“That’s the group that plans the end-of-year activities for the seniors,” Ensley said. “We are in charge of planning activities and raising money for them. Trips and things like that.”
Carter Ensley, all 6-foot-5, 250 pounds of him, is a member of the Class of 2020, a group that has already been part of two unimaginable events that shook America to its core. Ensley, who was born in southern New Jersey, entered the world just 92 days after 9/11.
He and the rest of the Class of 2020 were too young to remember that horrific day. But they are reminded almost daily of the consequences, and how life changed that day.
Now, the Class of 2020 is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, an event that is still playing out while changing lives and the way we live forever.
“Philip Simmons is an amazing school,” Ensley said. “I have almost zero complaints. Being somewhat of a new school, they weren’t used to the whole senior year, and the coronavirus certainly changed things.”
Not all in a bad way, however. The cancellation of classes served as a reinforcement of just how important it will be to study and work independently on his own when Ensley matriculates to Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland on a track and field scholarship.
And, while he doesn’t get to see classmates and other students on a daily basis, the friendships have been forged to last a lifetime. It’s something that he and his classmates will look back at in a decade when the Class of 2020 celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Ensley hoped to wear a state championship ring when he and classmates reunited.
But that won’t be possible.
Ensley, the three-sport star, was expected to have a big role in the school’s bid for a first state track and field championship after a most-impressive second-place team finish last May. But the virus wiped out that dream.
“Not just myself, but everyone else thought we would win the state championship in boys and girls (competition),” Ensley said. “We worked hard in the offseason, and we were ready to go out and prove it – that we were the best. I would come back for homecoming with that state championship ring on my finger.”
Ensley moved to South Carolina in time for his junior year at PSHS. He competed in the javelin, shot put and discus in the Garden State, the same events he excelled at with the Iron Horses.
Ensley, ranked No. 9 in his class with a 4.4 GPA, also played basketball and football at PSHS. He played left tackle for football coach Eric Bendig, a man who went to bat for Ensley when it came to athletics and academics.
“He told us if we worked hard for the team, he would work hard for us. That means a lot because athletics means a lot to me,” Bendig said.