Community Captain: Jharrison Gillespie

Jharrison Gillespie, senior running back and linebacker at Hillside (Durham, NC) High School, has been selected as a Carolina Panthers Community Captain. The 5' 9" 196 lb. running back and linebacker is a leader on and off the football field.

On the football field in 2008, he has a total of 72 tackles and five sacks on defense and 360 yards rushing, 122 yards receiving and 12 total touchdowns on offense.

Gillespie gives the credit to his parents for instilling his strong character and work ethic. "My mother would always tell me to do the right thing," said Gillespie. "I have been hearing that statement my whole life. I have realized now that she has been telling me to be responsible. Being responsible means doing the right thing at all times, even when no one is looking. It takes responsibility to get the grades that you know you will need to be accepted into college. It takes responsibility to ignore your friends when there is work to be done. And it takes responsibility to lead your team when they are winning as well as when they are losing. Responsibility is the key trait needed to be a great leader."

Gillespie has taken his well-thought out approach to responsibility and applied it in the classroom and his community. When he's not carrying a football, he carries a 4.32 weighted grade point average and a 3.66 unweighted grade point average which ranks him in the top 25 of his class. He has been on the A/B Honor Roll every semester at Hillside and was also on the Superintendent's A Honor Roll during his sophomore and junior years. Along with football, he is also a member of the Symphonic Band and National Honor Society.

His tutoring work with elementary school students was one effort that helped earn him the "Hillside Hornet of the Nest" award for distinguished community service.

While many high school students are unsure of their career goals, Gillespie has a clear vision and smiles when he says that he would like to open his own dental practice.

Hillside head football coach, Ray Harrison is a Jharrison Gillespie fan and had this to say about his standout player, "Jharrison is not just a member of the Hillside football program, but an extraordinary leader. He is highly respected by his teammates and classmates for his willingness to always help others at anytime he can. He has been instrumental in setting the prime example of what it truly means to be a student athlete. He takes great pride in stepping on the field in his white and navy every Friday and I am proud to coach him as a member of my team," said Coach Harrison.

During this high school football season, the Carolina Panthers will select ten Community Captains based on nominations received from high school administrators and media representatives. Recipients will receive an authentic Carolina Panthers Community Captain jersey and have the opportunity to participate in select Panthers community outreach events during the current academic year. Recipients will be honored during an on-field ceremony at the Panthers home game versus the Denver Broncos on December 14, 2008 at Bank of America Stadium.

The Carolina Panthers Community Captain program recognizes outstanding high school football student-athletes in North and South Carolina who have demonstrated strong leadership skills on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. The program encourages these future college and NFL players to continue in their positive development as leaders and role models in their communities.

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