Panthers to Award ‘Community Captains'

This season, the Carolina Panthers will recognize ten high school football student athletes in North and South Carolina through the Carolina Panthers Community Captains Award. The Community Captains program will honor outstanding student-athletes that have exhibited outstanding leadership on the football field, in the classroom and in their communities.

"Making the transition from high school to college is a big adjustment, not just on the field, but in the classroom," said Chris Dubek, of the Carolina Panthers' Community Relations & Youth Program Development Department. "It's also a big increase in personal responsibility. We want to encourage young men who have established themselves as leaders during their prep careers to continue their leadership growth as they move to the next level."

"One of the expectations of playing in the NFL, and in particular the Carolina Panthers is the desire and commitment to give back to the community," said Riley Fields, Director of Community Relations. "There are so many opportunities that players can get involved with, whether it's working with youth, participating in a community improvement project or visiting folks in the hospital. Most college programs offer similar outreach/ community service projects, so we want to help inspire our Community Captains to get involved with these opportunities. We want to cultivate off-the-field leaders who will carry that ethic with them into adulthood once their college careers are over."

In an effort to prepare future college players of these new responsibilities, the Carolina Panthers have developed the new Community Captains program.

"We're giving them the heads up," said Dubek. "We're preparing them and letting them know how big of an impact their sheer presence has on a child, a community, etc."

In addition to being honored during the Panthers home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 17, the winners, who will be designated Community Captains, will receive an authentic Community Captain jersey, and will have the opportunity to participate in events with current Panthers players. The Community Captains jerseys are unique in that they are actual Carolina Panthers game-worn jerseys.

"They will have the opportunity to participate in several Carolina Panthers outreach initiatives during the holiday season," said Fields. "The Community Captains will work in tandem with Panthers players to assist on projects that make significant impacts on families during the holidays."

"These high school star athletes are going to see first hand what type of impact these athletes have, what type of difference they can make by working with people that are less fortunate then themselves," said Dubek.

The Community Captains will also be able to participate in two additional programs— Tackle Hunger and the Community Holiday Party.

The deadline for all applications to be received is Sept. 1. A committee, assembled from members of the media, and representatives from the Carolina Panthers and, will review the applications and then select a Community Captain each week starting on Sept. 10.

"This prestigious award does not go to an all-around student-athlete. Being the best of the best and a great student is outstanding in and of itself. If you aren't voluntarily participating in events in your community, you can't get this award," said Dubek. "You have to have the trifecta here—good grades, elite football player, and also good person off the field."

"Our hope is that the award recipients will remain as positive role models as they continue to advance and achieve on the football field and as individuals," said Fields. "We are hoping to lay the foundation of high expectation for these young men. They have a tremendous opportunity to utilize the sport of football to accomplish great things for themselves, and as importantly, a tremendous opportunity to impact others through their leadership and service.

"The Carolina Panthers would like to thank the folks at for their enthusiasm and support of the Community Captains program," continued Fields. "We are grateful for their valued assistance in recognizing this year's incoming class."

Upon selection, the Community Captain will be personally notified and then featured on the Carolina Panthers web site.

All high school football senior student-athletes in North Carolina and South Carolina are eligible for the Community Captain award. Click here for a Community Captain nomination form.

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