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Carolina Panthers Mentor Youth On and Off the Field

Carolina Panthers table in foreground; people standing in background
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 3:27pm
Author: 
Kirsten Barber, Digital Media Specialist

Last month, 25 male students from Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center spent a day at Frank Liske Park in Concord training with Carolina Panthers players and staff, including Mario Addison (All-Pro starting defensive end) and Kawann Short (starting defensive tackle). The excitement was evident as the players exited the bus to meet the young men. Watch video here.

Stonewall Jackson YDC Director Peter Brown worked with Panthers Community Relations Director Riley Fields and Communications Director Steve Drummond to make this event possible, hoping the two players could provide a positive influence for the participating students by sharing encouraging messages. He told Addison and Short, “You don’t have to say anything profound, just your presence today is a remarkable gift.”

Though the fame and lofted status of being a professional athlete followed the players to the event, both expressed a strong desire to give back to the community and demonstrated it through this mentoring opportunity.

Before the event, Addison and Short shared their background and stories of facing tough decisions growing up. The football clinic was kicked off by a group huddle, and then the youth were put through several skill position stations.

The players broke for lunch with the youth at the Stonewall Jackson facility and continued to have discussions about making good decisions and staying on a good path through life. “We all grew up in similar places [as you], but we didn’t let that determine our future, we didn’t let that determine where we wanted to go in life,” Short told the students. “You might have to go through some rough to get what you want.”

By day’s end, it was apparent that everyone who participated was moved by the meaningful engagement between the players and the students. Reflecting on the day’s activities with several NCDPS staff members, Brown went on to say, “Today was filled with uplifting messages of encouragement, and illustrates that through hard work and perseverance, anything is possible, anything can be.”