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WAKE FOREST — Heritage High School will host its fourth annual football benefit golf tournament Monday, June 17 at Heritage Golf Club.
With the 2018-2019 school year coming to a close, high school coaches are focused on preparing for the upcoming fall sports season. Due to the lack of state funding for high school athletic programs, players rely on their families, community members and local businesses to help fill the gap.
Donations from the local community fund new equipment to help prevent injuries, training camps, field maintenance and updates, and sometimes meals for players, but it also has a greater impact on these athletes. When putting their support behind high school athletic programs, businesses are providing players with a sense of purpose, an opportunity to develop leadership skills, and form a brotherhood that will stay with them well beyond their high school years.
Parker Smith, nicknamed “Chops” by his teammates, is a rising junior and offensive left tackle on Heritage High School’s football team. Parker was once a soft-spoken teen that did not have a lot of self-confidence. On day one of summer workouts his freshman year, he felt a sense of camaraderie and a brotherhood that has helped him develop into a leader and a mentor for his teammates.
“I never thought of myself as a leader,” said Parker. “Having the opportunity to attend camp and be a part of the Heritage football program has allowed me to better myself not just on the field, but in the classroom, and within the community.”
As president of the Letterman’s Club, Parker organizes and participates in monthly community service activities with his teammates. The primary goal of the Lettermen’s Club is to provide opportunities to build lasting character and future leaders in student-athletes, using athletics as a catalyst.
Rising senior and cornerback for Heritage J’lan High finds football to be his motivation for everything in his life.
“Football has helped me work harder in the classroom, boosting my grades to A’s and B’s,” High said. “My teammates and coaches push me to be a leader and a good citizen. Football is a way out for a lot of kids that may fall into bad situations.”
Of course, striving to win and potentially go to the 4A state championship is in the back of Parker and J’lan’s mind, as well as Heritage’s head coach Wallace Clark.
“The season isn’t just about winning,” Clark said. “It’s about providing these young athletes with the opportunity to become productive members of the community.”
Clark has a vision of bringing together area high school football programs to participate in and execute community outreach projects. An example of two rivals coming together for a good cause was back in October when the Heritage Huskies and Wake Forest Cougars helped to dismantle The Wall that Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“When differences are put aside, good things can happen,” said Clark.
This time of year, local teams are asking a lot of their community members and area businesses. To help the athletes and the football program, sponsorships and donations are currently being accepted. To participate in the 4th Annual H3 Football Benefit Golf Tournament, visit the tournament website at https://h3footballteam.wixsite.com/golftournament.