SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Local military service men and women got an opportunity to train like Carolina Panthers at Wofford College on Wednesday.
The “USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp” brought together more than 100 local military personnel who competed in teams for a chance to win tickets to see a Carolina Panthers game.
The event featured football drills similar to those used by NFL coaches to evaluate NFL talent, including the 40-yard-dash, vertical jump, three-cone shuttle, receiving gauntlet, and QB arm challenge.
“We get to have fun. They allow us to do that because of everything they do. So we’re very thankful for that. As much as we can come and support them, we try to do that,” said Scott Fritterer, general manager for the Carolina Panthers.
The team with the best overall scores wins the competition, which gives the Panthers an opportunity to give back to military service members who are called upon to risk their lives to protect our country, said Vinnis Parnell, a former college football player who coached players through the drills at the event.
“It gives the military guys a chance to come out here and do with the NFL guys do,” he said.
Some first-time participants found the drills more difficult than they imagined.
“It’s kind of humbling. I didn’t realize I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was, but NFL athletes are NFL athletes for a reason, said Quantarrian Baynard, a military serviceman from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “I do appreciate them letting us come out and be a part of this event.”
Earlier in the day, participants had a chance to meet players from the Panthers, and service members collected autographs from some of their favorite players on the team.
“The Panthers were super cool with us. All the players came by, shook hands, took pictures, and signed jerseys,” said Eloy Vitery, a serviceman from Raleigh, North Carolina.