I've been a fan of the Carolina Panthers since day one. And by day one, I mean a couple years before day one. It was at my brother's graduation from Winthrop College in Rock Hill, SC in 1993 when Jerry Richardson appeared as the commencement speaker. He laid it on the line to the audience: he was bringing NFL Football to the Carolinas. I was struck at the very mention of it. An NFL team here, in the Carolinas? My brothers and I had been fans of football all our lives, but never felt like we had a team. All that changed, and in 1995 I made it to the first ever Panthers game - held at the Clemson University practice field in South Carolina.
In all my years as a fan I've followed the players and watched the games, but I've rarely been able to afford to get to the stadium. In those rare moments I do get to see the Panthers play live, it is pure magic. But my girls all know about the team because every summer we go to Spartanburg and watch them practice at Wofford College. And I've found a new way to express my love of Star Wars by repainting one of my Stormtrooper outfits in Panthers blue-and-black and now I enjoy doing stuff as Panthers Trooper.
It's been a long and awesome ride and I can't thank Mr. Richardson and the Panthers enough for giving my family a local team to root for!
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