Riverside's Carter Marchbanks talks Samford Decision

What made you decide to commit to Samford? 
I visited six schools in the southeast during the fall and spring of my junior year to tour the campus and learn about their academic programs.  Samford was at the top of my list after my initial visits, based purely on the academics and campus feel. I chose to apply to four schools and made three official visits for running to my top choices. Samford was the last official visit I took. After spending time with the team and the coach, I knew Samford was the school God was calling me to attend.

College signings and commitments | Class AAAAA girls rankings

How did you make the final decision and who was involved? 
My whole family came with me on my official visit, so my parents and I talked a lot about the school on our five-hour trip home. They could tell how much I loved the school, so with further discussion at home, I decided to commit a couple days later. 

What did you experience on each visit? 
The first visit I made to Samford in the spring was purely academic. I took a tour of the campus and met with advisors in admissions, nursing, and the honors college. I was very impressed with the nursing program, liked the small college feel, and fell in love with the campus. The second visit I made was strictly for running. I stayed both nights in the dorms with two girls on the team. The visit was unlike other official visits I had made; the girls' team was more a part of the activities and schedule. It felt very natural, and I could see myself as a part of the team next year. 

What were your top five choices? 
My top choices for college were Samford University, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee, and Clemson University.

Who was involved in the process for you? 
My parents and little brother, of course, were a huge support throughout the whole process of choosing a college. I don't know if I would have been able to survive the first part of my senior year without them. The senior girls on my team last year (who are all running in college this year) were very supportive and gave me great advice along my journey. My coach, Eric Cummings, also helped in guiding me to my decision of Samford.

How did you get involved in the sport and why? 
I swam competitively year-round for five years before I started running. I decided to try Cross Country in eighth grade because I was not as passionate about swimming as I used to be, and I knew a couple girls who were going to try running, too. I soon fell in love with the sport and became very close to all the girls on the team.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
One of my many challenges was my SI joint injury last cross country season. It happened in the middle of the season, and I had to take some time off from training. It was hard to stop my training and watch the other girls continue to run. With the help of a couple specialists, I was back on my feet and able to finish out the season. 

What did you learn from the experience? 
I learned that, like this injury, things in life will pop up unplanned. I did not have a week off from running scheduled in my training plan, but because of the circumstances, I had to make some adjustments. Learning to work around this injury has taught me how to look at certain situations in my life. Instead of trying to control every aspect of my life, it is better to give it all to God. 

How is training now that the season is almost over? 
I am going to run Foot Locker (South) this year. For the past three years, our girls' team participated in Nike (Regionals), which is the same day as Foot Locker, so it will be fun to experience the Foot Locker race.

How do you look at your time at Riverside?
I really enjoyed my time at Riverside and all the friends I have made over these four years. They are years I will never forget and cherish forever.

What will you miss the most?
I will miss all the relationships I have created with coaches, teammates, and runners from other schools throughout my high school experience. The group of senior girls that graduated last year (Abigail Smith, Cate Ambrose, Mikie Harris, and Ashley Fallow) became my closest friends. This season has been hard not having them around, but I am so proud of all they are achieving during their first year in college. 

How do you rate this season?
This season has been one of a kind. I absolutely love all the girls on the team, and I am so proud of all the hard work they have put into this season. I could not have asked for a better senior year season. 

How do you look at the history and being part of growing a big and known team at Riverside? 
It is crazy to look back at how far the team has come from my first year running in eighth grade. Not only has the team grown in numbers, but also in the dedication and hard work each person puts into running. There are so many young girls who have stepped up and really made a difference this season. I am very thankful to have been a part of this growth and cannot wait to see how the team does in upcoming years.

What would you say is the biggest memory you have? 
The biggest memory I have would have to be the first year we won State my eighth-grade year. I had earned the last spot on the varsity team to run at State. I remember the atmosphere of that meet being so different than any other meet that season. When we were announced as the winners, it was surreal; everyone was so excited. The bus ride back to Riverside was so much fun, too. We were playing music, doing cheers, and the firetruck escorted us back the last mile to the school. I am grateful to have been a part of the varsity winning team for the past four years and look forward to adding a fifth win at State this year. 

What do you hope to study and otherwise achieve in college? 
I hope to study nursing and go on to obtain my masters in nursing as a Nurse Practitioner. Nursing allows you to create strong relationships with patients which is what I am looking for in a career. I would also love to specialize in Pediatrics. 

How does it feel to have the decision made prior to the season?
It feels like a load has been taken off my shoulders. I am very excited for what is to come at Samford, and I am at peace with the decision I have made. The rest of the year is all about enjoying all the "lasts" and experiencing senior year to the fullest.  

How did the Samford coaches react when informed? 
Coach Pat McGregor was very excited when I told him I wanted to commit to Samford. The following Saturday the team raced in Spartanburg for the SoCon Championship race, so I went to support the team. It made me excited to see what I will be a part of next year.