Panthers program inspires young football players
With the NFL season kicking off, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton couldn’t make it. But more than two dozen North Charleston Elementary School students collected Newton T-shirts Monday at an NFL Play 60 function put on by the Panthers and A Brighter Future Foundation.
For more than an hour, students in grades one through five had the opportunity to go through some Panther-style football drills at Attaway-Heinsohn Field. The Play 60 program is designed to help fight childhood obesity by encouraging them to be active for an hour a day.
“We have eight stations, and we send the kids through each station for eight minutes,” said Jeff Dulaney, a former College of Charleston pitcher who now works with the Panthers’ community relations department.
The Panthers have taken the program throughout North and South Carolina over the summer months, working with more than 8,000 youths.
The stations highlighted touchdown celebrations, tackling, relay race, quarterback toss, route running, quarterback-receiver drills, kicking and a water station for them to hydrate.
“Faster, faster, faster,” one coach encouraged his players. The coaches praised them for their efforts and tried to teach through the drills.
William Brown, founder and CEO of A Brighter Future (myabff.org), is a North Charleston native who returned to the area after college with hopes of inspiring area youths.
Brown said the community helped keep him out of trouble while he was growing up because he was a good athlete.
“Last year, we started with basketball and had more than 180 kids that participated through the area elementary schools,” Brown said. “We provide sports, mentoring and tutoring. We hold our kids accountable academically. All of them have to come with their report cards before participating. The coaches do spot checks to make sure they’re doing their school work.”
He said he learned of the Play 60 program through the Internet and wanted to use it to kick off A Brighter Future’s flag football program. The elementary school flag football competition will be divided into three divisions, first grade, second and third grade, and fourth and fifth grade.