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Weight Room Makeover: Olympic edition

Posted Oct 4, 2011

CHARLOTTE - There's been a lot to cheer about so far this season on Charlotte Olympic High School's football field.

Tuesday, the good times continued to roll when the Carolina Panthers presented the school's athletic program with $50,000 worth of weight training equipment as a part of the team's "High School Weight Room Makeover" program.

Just a few feet from the football field, the Trojans football team, volleyball team, marching band and cheerleaders gathered as a moving truck pulled up. After the crowd chanted "Open that truck," confetti flew and the back of the truck opened to reveal three Panthers players and two Olympic players along with a piece of the equipment donated to the school.

"It's a great idea that has brought a lot of excitement," said Olympic football coach Barry Shuford, whose Trojans are off to a 6-1 start this season. "Hopefully now we can get up to the standard of the other 4-A teams we compete with in the city. It's also going to mean a lot to our girls' programs and cheerleaders, really everybody.

"We have so many economic needs here, and I know the other three schools that won are in need also."

Olympic was the first of four winning schools to receive their delivery of equipment. About 70 high schools in North and South Carolina applied for the chance to receive equipment from the Panthers' weight room, which was recently remodeled.

The other winning schools – Riverside (Durham, N.C.), Scott's Branch (Summerton, S.C.) and South Stanly (Norwood, N.C.) – will have their equipment delivered later this month.

"The Carolina Panthers are thrilled to offer this tremendous opportunity to schools, especially when the need for resources is at a premium," said Peter Vacho, the Panthers' youth and military programs manager. "It is exciting to know that this equipment will make a significant impact in serving student-athletes in our region."

Panthers linebacker Jason Williams, flanked by teammates Richie Brockel and Byron Bell and Olympic football captains Keemar Noble and Andre Small, stood in the back of the truck and addressed the Olympic supporters on hand.

"This equipment was previously used by myself and my teammates," Williams said. "Now it can be used by all of you."

After the presentation, Williams said he would have loved such a gesture during his high school days in Chicago.

"It touches home with me because of the situation I grew up in," Williams said. "When I was in high school, I wasn't privileged to have a functional weight room. I didn't touch a weight until college, so I would have loved if something like this could have happened when I was younger.

"It was awesome seeing how excited these kids were. You could tell that it meant a lot to them."

Noble, a linebacker on an Olympic team that has averaged 43.6 points per game during its five-game winning streak, said the team would try to thank the Panthers with another victory this week.

"It's very generous. On behalf of the Trojans, we'd like to say ‘thank you' to the Carolina Panthers," Noble said. "There's a stereotype that once players get to the NFL, they don't care anymore. It's reassuring to see that they do still care."