Students studying outside the library

‘Panthers Homecoming Celebration’ set for July 30

July 23, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Wofford College , the City of Spartanburg and Team Spartanburg, the sports council of the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, will celebrate the return of NFL’s NFC Champion Carolina Panthers with a “Panthers Homecoming Celebration” on Friday, July 30, at Wofford College. The free event will be from 6 to 10 p.m. It will be held behind Gibbs Stadium on Twitty Street. Parking will be along Cumming and Evins streets.

Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney will make a guest appearance at the event, and it will mark the premiere of the 2003 highlight video of the Panthers’ incredible season, shown on large outdoor video screens. Fireworks are planned at the end of the night.

The Carolina Panthers, coming off a Super Bowl XXXVIII appearance, will hold their 10th annual summer training camp beginning on Saturday, July 31, at Wofford. Camp will run through Aug. 25.

The “Panthers Homecoming Celebration” will include music, food, contests, games and loads of fun. Gates will open at 6 p.m. The program at about 7:15 p.m., featuring giveaways, live music, the Panthers Top Cat cheerleaders, Panthers mascot Sir Purr, Hollywild Animal Park’s panther and more.

WSPA News Channel 7’s Pete Yanity will be the emcee for the event.

Attendees are encouraged to come decked out in their best Panthers garb and make-up, because the Spartanburg Herald-Journal is sponsoring the “Greatest Panthers Fan Contest,” to be judged on the stage that night by the Top Cat cheerleaders, who will perform as well as sign autographs. The winner of the contest will receive a terrific prize package.

The Panthers Experience, featuring free interactive games for children, also will be set up to give young fans a chance to test their football skills.

Admission is free; vendors will be on hand selling food, beverages and Panthers merchandise.

The Big Country Foundation, the foundation of Panthers All-Pro running back Stephen Davis, a Spartanburg native, will sell tickets for a chance to win a Stephen Davis Signature Toyota Tacoma truck. The foundation, which supports screening for prostate and breast cancer and educational resources for cancer prevention and treatment, also will have a number of autographed items available through a silent auction.

Sponsoring the event are Ogletree Deakins, WSPA News Channel 7, Pepsi (the official soft drink of the Carolina Panthers) and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Saturday, the opening day of training camp, will feature the annual “Team Spartanburg Family Day”. Beginning at 8 a.m., activities will include the Panthers Experience, giveaways and drawings for Panthers and Wofford College football tickets. The 2004 Carolina Panthers take the field for their first workout at 8:50 a.m.; a second practice is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Saturday morning also marks the first day of the Panther Pals program. Started at the 2003 training camp, Panther Pals offers children ages 6-13 a special opportunity to view part of morning practice from field level and then spend time with a player or small group of players when practice ends.

Children register each morning for a chance to be chosen as a Panther Pal by picking up a free numbered ticket at the Panther Pal center at the gate to the practice field. Five tickets will be randomly picked about 30 minutes before the end of the practice session. The children selected will receive a Panther Pal T-shirt and be escorted to a special area to watch the final minutes of practice.

When practice is over, Panther Pals meet the players, spend time talking with them and stay with the participating players while they sign autographs on the way up to the training facility. Each day’s experience is unique and dependent on schedules and player availability as determined by the Carolina Panthers.

For more information, contact Laura Corbin at (864) 597-4180 or by email at

Also on Saturday, Wofford Sports Marketing, in conjunction with Team Spartanburg will hold a “Punt, Pass and Kick” competition for children ages 5 to 12; another competition will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 4. Both will be held on the football practice fields used by the Carolina Panthers.

Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, children may register at the “Punt, Pass and Kick” table located at the main entrance to the practice fields on Twitty Street (off North Pine Street). The competition will begin at 11:30 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. each day. Boys and girls will compete in separate divisions for ages 5-7, 8-9 and 10-12.

Registration is $10, and all kids will receive a “Punt, Pass and Kick” T-shirt and a general admission ticket to Wofford football’s Sept. 25 home opener versus Johnson C. Smith. The top five boys and girls in each age group will be invited back for the finals to be held the afternoon of the defending SoCon champion Terriers’ 7 p.m. game versus the Golden Bulls.

For information about the PPK competition, contact sports marketing director Lenny Mathis at (864) 597-4090 or .

For information on all of these events, and more on training camp, go to