PITCHER, CLUB PRESIDENT, GRADUATION SPEAKER

Noah Carter excelled at Chatham Charter. He credits his faith and his mother

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 7/22/20

SILER CITY — Noah Carter’s two years at Chatham Charter were busy, to say the least.

He dove headfirst into college-level classes. He worked out incessantly to improve his pitch speed. He …

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PITCHER, CLUB PRESIDENT, GRADUATION SPEAKER

Noah Carter excelled at Chatham Charter. He credits his faith and his mother

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Posted

SILER CITY — Noah Carter’s two years at Chatham Charter were busy, to say the least.

He dove headfirst into college-level classes. He worked out incessantly to improve his pitch speed. He played catchup to make connections in a 45-person graduating class where everybody knew everybody.

As a senior, he led the school’s DECA chapter as president, co-led its Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and “double timed” his workout routines in the fall in hopes of boosting his college scholarship chances. Not to mention juggling the coronavirus pandemic that upended his final baseball season.

It wasn’t until last Saturday morning, once Chatham Charter’s drive-by ceremony ended and his graduation was official, that he sat down and really took it all in. The late nights. The early mornings. The roster spot awaiting him at Catawba Valley Community College, where he signed to play baseball in January.

“You know, I did more in two years than I could have imagined I’d do in four,” he said. “It’s really special to look back and think: there’s a reason why I did this. And, of course, I believe it’s because of my faith — and the way my mom raised me.”

And raise him Luanne Holt Oestreich did.

They lived in Cary, the two of them, and Carter’s mom led by example: in her faith, in her attitude, in her perseverance. She did not miss games. Simple as that. Regardless of distance or weather or health — she battled brain cancer for three years — when Carter looked to the bleachers, she was there.

“She was so influential in my life when I was younger,” he said. “I tell everybody: she really got everything she needed to teach me out before I turned 16. Because I was 16 when she passed away.”

July 1, 2018. 3:16 p.m. A Sunday. Oestreich, 50, “went peacefully to with her Lord,” her obituary read, “surrounded by her loving family and bathed in prayer.”

Carter had just finished his sophomore year at Panther Creek. He knew change was coming. But his mother had set a foundation for success — he had to finish what she’d started.

He returned to Chatham County, where he’d grown up with his parents (and attended Bonlee Elementary) until they divorced as he entered sixth grade and he moved to Cary with his mother.

Carter said he and his father, Chris, have always had a strong relationship, too. He moved in with his dad and step-mom, Pam Culberson, in Silk Hope and transferred to Chatham Charter ahead of his junior year. The fit was natural — he especially loved the personable feel of things as compared to Panther Creek, a large 4A school.

“And coach (Bill) Slaughter, the first time I met him, I just absolutely loved him to death,” Carter said. “Like this was going to be a great place to call home for the next few years.”

It was. A 6-foot-4 righty, Carter thrived in an ace role for the Knights, compiling a 2.10 ERA and one memorable no-hitter over two seasons. He also took his share of at-bats and, in a pinch, played some infield positions — two things he loved doing and saw as crucial to his overall development.

He made lasting relationships, too. Grieving wasn’t easy, he said, but a “great support system” at his school made the hard days a little easier. Carter, also active in the school’s Beta Club, pushed himself academically and tried to hone his leadership skills whenever possible.

This spring, he figured out it paid off. Chatham Charter took video proposals for two senior addresses — a “memories” speech and a “challenge” speech — in April. Reluctant at first, Carter submitted an entry for the latter category after some encouragement from Beth McCullough, the school’s executive director of secondary programs and communications. And his peers voted him the winner.

So on Saturday, he gave an unorthodox speech at an unorthodox ceremony. McCullough played a recording of Carter’s words through a microphone at the school’s drive-by ceremony; he watched the YouTube livestream in purple and white regalia with his father, step-mother and grandmother from home.

“Strive to enjoy life in its fullest, no matter the circumstances,” Carter, 18, told his classmates. “Strive to appreciate your family, friends and the moments you get to share with them. Strive not for tangible things but for the good times we are gifted in this life. Strive to be joyful in the face of adversity and be the beacon of hope our world needs in this hour.”

Forty-five minutes later, he was a Chatham Charter graduate, a soon-to-be college pitcher and a son that Luanne Holt Oestreich could be proud of.

“That’s what makes me the happiest to think about,” Carter said. “I know that I’m fulfilling what she wanted me to do. And I’m doing what she raised me to do. And I’m being the young man that she raised me to be.”

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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