Pruitt Names Coach of the Week

The American flag is a lasting symbol of freedom that reminds Americans of those who fight to protect it.

The stars and stripes flap in the wind over high school football stadiums across America, and for one night at West Wilkes High School, the flag was one that was flown during combat operations in Iraq by the Blackhawk aircrew of Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment of Camp Anaconda.

Fittingly, the mascot of West Wilkes High School is the Blackhawk. Head Football Coach Tim Pruitt had his players write letters and send small gifts to the squadron thanking them for their service to our nation. In return for this consideration, the squadron placed the West Wilkes helmet decals on their own helmets (pictured) and sent the battle worn flag to the team.

The Carolina Panthers have named Coach Tim Pruitt of West Wilkes High School (Millers Creek, NC) as a 2007 Coach of the Week recipient. The program recognizes outstanding high school coaches that have a positive influence in the communities and schools which they serve. In addition to receiving this award, a $1,000 donation from the Panthers and the National Football League will be made to the school's athletic department.

Coach Pruitt has led his Blackhawks to a 9-2 regular season record in the Northwest League, one of the premier 1A football conferences in North Carolina. While he has been successful on the field, Pruitt is far more than a football coach. "[He] is the ultimate team player," notes West Wilkes athletic director Chris Skabo. "If there is a need or a job to be done, he always volunteers to help."

Pruitt is generous with his time to the school he serves: coaching the track team when it did not have a coach; performing as the announcer for home basketball, baseball, and softball games; serving as an umpire for the high school summer league; driving a bus when another team needs a driver; and running the weight room year round.

While these unselfish deeds are significant, perhaps Coach Pruitt's greatest impact has been the personal development of his players. The Blackhawk squad maintains an approximate 3.0 GPA. Players attend character education classes three days a week and are assigned several personal projects, including writing a letter to someone who has been a big influence in their life.

"I can't tell you how long it has been since we have had a football player in trouble in or out of school," says Skabo. "These lessons have proven to be fantastic for overall discipline and individual character development."

The Millers Creek community has also greatly benefited from Tim Pruitt's hard work. During the football season, Pruitt, his staff, and players run a flag football league for first and second graders. He also conducts a summer football camp for third through twelfth graders and serves as stadium supervisor for pee wee games. Furthermore, Pruitt has implemented a community night with his football team. Volunteers cook a meal for the team, families, and fans that would like to attend. It gives everyone a sense of being part of the Blackhawk team.

This Veterans Day, the Carolina Panthers would like to wish Coach Pruitt and the Blackhawks continued success.


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