CHARLOTTE - As part of a celebration of Women's History Month, Tepper Sports & Entertainment staff traveled to Harding University High School in west Charlotte on Monday morning to engage in conversation with over 80 female students from their athletics programs.
The morning kicked off with a panel, mediated by Panthers community relations manager Jill Cole, and was comprised of six women throughout the different organizations under TSE. Represented departments ranged from Human Resources all the way to the other side of Tryon's CLTFC Ticket Operations. Topics included facing adversity, notes of encouragement, and mental health in the workforce.
The most shocking part to the students? No one on the panel had planned to work in sports when they were in high school or college.
"The fact that Harding has anything like this is really cool and impactful for these girls because I didn't have anything like this at my high school… even if you don't want to work in sports, it opens up opportunities outside of the bubble that you have in high school," said Jordan Trgovac, a recent addition to Scott Fitterer's scouting team.
This was echoed by Panthers team president, Kristi Coleman, saying "it is helpful for young women to see other females in business roles, so they know it is possible. It is also good for aspiring, young talent to hear from successful women on how they have handled stress, anxiety, and other pressures. The insights could be applied in high school, and throughout their lives."
Upon the completion of the panel, students were then put into breakout groups that were led by over 20 female staff members, representing both the Panthers and Charlotte FC. Students were able to sit at tables with roles that they were interested in, as well as ask more in-depth questions that related to where they were in their education.
Leah Rodgers, Director of Ticket Operations for Charlotte FC, said "you never know where things are going to go," when asked about the best advice she could give to high schoolers. All opportunities are either a "this is where I'm supposed to be, or this is a first step," said Rodgers. Part of figuring out what you want to do is also figuring out what you don't want to do.
Many of the women shared similar sentiments as well as encouraging the students to lean on your people, build each other up, and reach out to make those connections wherever they can.
This is just one of the many experiences the Carolina Panthers are taking to Harding University High School as part of their Inspire Change initiatives, with both the Carolina Panthers and the Harding Rams being excited for the relationships and mentorship being continually built.
View photos of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC female staff at the Harding High School Career and College Readiness Assembly in Charlotte. The assembly was intended to create and foster mentorship, encouragement, and perspectives that can be used as resources for future career paths.