As a top runner on the Tulare Western cross country team — junior Carter Mendes puts in the time and work it takes to be a stand-out athlete and team captain.

His coach — who nominated him to be recognized for outstanding character says Carter understands the process of becoming a great athlete, and he inspires his teammates while doing it.

“The little extras he does after practice and on his own and his determination and grit level during practice, they have started to emulate that and it inspires them,” says teacher and cross country coach Jordan Perry. “It has taken our program to another level having a leader like him.”

His kindness and leadership skills run off the course as well.

“Everyone I have ever talked to about Carter, whether it is a teacher or someone who has some type of interaction with him, they just sing his praises,” explains Perry

While Carter has worked hard to rehab injuries from running and perfect his form, kindness is something that comes to him without even breaking a sweat.

“I feel like it is important to be like that because I am a Christian and I believe that that is what the bible and God tells us to do,” Carter says. “So I try to live that out in that way.”

His teammates appreciate the example he sets on the cross country team and in the classroom.

“If you ask any person in the school, ‘How does Carter impact you?’ They would give you a really good response,” explains Carter’s teammate David Sanchez.

“I feel like most people will respond with kindness if you’re able to give it in the first place,” Carter says. “It always seems to go well.”