Pell City set to host Fan Day today
by Erich Hilkert
Pell City High School will be holding ‘Meet the Panthers’ today at the school, starting at 9 a.m. with the event estimated to conclude around 2 p.m. with the varsity football team holding a team scrimmage.

“I think it’s an opportunity for some of our guys to realize what a role model they are and how they are looked up to,” head coach Brooks Dampeer said. “I was talking to them the other day, whether they want to admit it or not, they all can remember — I can remember back being a manager on my dad’s team and thinking, ‘Gollee! Those guys are huge. Those guys have hung the moon.’ You think ‘I’ll never be that age. I’ll never be there.’

“When you think of it now, you are. But those guys make a difference in the young guys’ eyes. To me — I’ve said this in the past — when those young guys want to be that football player, want to be like that, that is success. When you get a little older — the junior high kids — they’re like ‘Hey, I’d like to be a coach.’ To me, that is success.

“It’s about molding men and molding them with character and integrity. No matter what happens, we’re going to do things the right way and represent our community with class, dignity and all those things.”

According to Dampeer, the idea to hold a fan day came out of his desire to find a way to get the program involved in the community and familiar to the people of Pell City.

“We want to find out how to get our community involved and how to get us involved with our community every way possible,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to scrimmage, get the kids out in front of a crowd with some referees and all those kinds of things. It’s just to let the community preview all the hard work we’ve been putting in — the kids.

“It’s just an opportunity to do that and an opportunity to get our youth programs involved with the high school and the junior high program. Hopefully, the weather will be good and it will be a good day just to see everybody. I think it’s important to let those youth kids be around the varsity players as much as possible. When you see that kid on Friday night on the field, you know what he looks like in the face.”

Those involved in youth football will have a portion of the morning devoted to them. Dampeer thinks it’s important to try to get involvement at all age levels to have a strong program for the long range.

“They are our future,” he said. “We want them to think, when they think of Pell City football, it’s everybody. We’re one, we’re all pulling the rope the same way and everybody is on the same page. When kids feel like they are important, when kids feel like they’re a part of what we’re doing, they want to play, they want to stick with it.

“We want to help our program grow from the smallest group in the youth league all the way through our varsity-level team. The more you can do together and as a community, the more successful you’ll be program-wise.”

Members of the varsity football and cheerleading squads will be signing autographs for the children on hand.

Dampeer wants to get all the Pell City Panthers excited about football with the team’s fall jamboree scheduled for Aug. 23 at Pell City against Thompson, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

“I hope the fans leave feeling ‘Hey, we’re excited to come back for the next Friday night,’ excited about the effort and attitudes our kids have been giving because I know the youth league kicks off here in the next week or so as well,” he said. “The band will perform, the volleyball teams will be announced, the cheerleaders will be announced and be able to perform and all those things.

“To me, I hope they see something a little different, a ‘Hey, we’re in it together. It’s about everybody; it’s not just football. From an athletic standpoint, we’re all together in community. I hope they leave knowing ‘Hey, they’re doing things right.’

© 2013