ABOUT THE TEAM
South Fork Panthers of Winston-Salem, Inc. (SFP) is an all-volunteer organization formed in 1995 and incorporated in 2008 to provide football and cheerleading opportunities for the youths throughout our neighborhoods. Ten people worked very hard that first year just to get us off and running. Many others through the years have joined in to contribute their time, talents, and resources. We greatly appreciate the energy and efforts of all our coaches, families, leadership, and players to get us where we are today, and we look forward to providing a quality playing experience for many years to come!
The mission of this organization will be to promote youth interest and participation in healthful team activities and the general welfare of young people, primarily in the section of Winston-Salem known as South Fork, through the organized rules and regulations of American Youth Football and Cheerleading.
The vision of the South Fork Panthers is to create an organizational climate that fosters community spirit, community and parental participation, sportsmanship, youth development and interest, and financial stability.
The South Fork Panthers was created in 1995 by ten concerned parents who wanted a organization that their children could be proud of. So on one cold Sunday afternoon these 10 parents met at Karen and Tom Smith's house. Tom was elected as President, Karen elected as Girls League Rep., Bryan Jones as Boys League Rep., JoEllen Crooks as Secretary, Bob Crooks as Boys Equipment Manager and Mike Hartman as Treasurer. Mike Hartman our newly elected Treasurer loaned the Panthers the necessary funds to purchase the equipment and uniforms necessary to start.
With elections done, the next job at hand was to create a constitution and by-laws. Tom Booth provided his expertise and that was done. Next we had to join the Northwest Midget Football League (downtown). Bryan Jones scouted the area for a suitable field and came back with the area behind South Fork Elementary School. Tom Smith then went to the Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation (John Goins) to make the necessary lease arrangements along with the Principal (Fran Douthit) of South Fork Elementary School. Now we felt we could go ahead with the equipment. Sportsman Supply (Judd) helped us to order the equipment necessary to outfit 193 boys and also gave us a crash course on fitting and maintaining this equipment. Dance Team assisted Karen in ordering uniforms for 105 girls. Lyndon Steel and Bob Crooks helped construct and erect our goal posts. Pepsi donated our score board along with being a supplier of our soft drinks in our first concession stand.
Tom Booth, after creating the constitution, came up with our name Panthers because the Carolina Panthers were just starting up. Tom Smith did some research and spoke with Donnie Shell, the Public Relations person for the Carolina Panthers and asked them if we could use their colors and logo. Donnie's reply was yes we could use the colors but we had to change the logo by 20% in order to do this. Brian Crooks designed our logo with the 20% changes needed that is on our helmets and provide advertising for our sign-ups. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools allowed us to distribute flyers for our sign-ups.
Soon Bob and Tom were sitting at the top of the hill where the flag pole is now contemplating what the future would bring for our new adventure. With nothing on the property the two had visions of every thing from many buildings to a dome over the field. The score board was now ordered so we had to have a place to put it. At one of our early sign-ups a parent of a football player said he was a carpenter and asked if we needed help. So Roger Cole got a crew together and our first concession stand was constructed. With no water we had to order Port-A-Johns for bathroom facilities. Time passed so quickly that our first practice was coming soon. All of the equipment had been delivered. Unfortunately the helmets were unassembled and white (instead of silver). They had to be shipped to Asheville to be painted. So we all got together at Bob Crooks house. Tom, Karen, JoEllen and Bob sat up all night putting 173 helmets together and before they knew it, it was 4:30 in the morning.
Game day was soon at hand. Tom Smith, who had a band at the time, provided the sound system to announce the games from atop of the hill on Pinoak St. On the night before the first game, while recording songs, Tom and Bob found a growl off of the tape by Janet Jackson from a song called "Black Cat." They instantly thought it would be a good symbol for the boys entering the field and after getting a touchdown. "Carolina Girls" by the Chairmen of the Board was used for the cheerleaders. The Panthers were now official. To see all of those children on the field sure could make a lump in your stomach knowing that a lot of hard work and perseverance can make anything possible.
In 1996 the need for indoor plumbing was great and our organization kept on growing by leaps and bounds. So Bobby Nifong donated his time to lay the blocks for our new concession stand. Trico Plumbing donated the parts and labor for the bathrooms. Mike York and Chris Mitchell did the wiring for the building. Schrader Construction handled the carpentry work. The old concession stand was then turned into a off season equipment storage/booster club building.
Another year goes by and more improvements are happening at the panther field. In 1997 Mike York and Chris Mitchell asked if we could use some outdoor lights from a parking lot that Caudill Electric was renovating. Soon we had lights for the times when the time changes and the field got to dark. With the help of a lot of dedicated parents and friends the Panthers continue to grow. In 2000 Le Bleu water with the help of David Vernon decided that we needed a new announcers booth and donated $5,000 in order to construct this. That same year our Midget Cheerleaders took Northwest Midget Cheerleading by storm and placed first in local competition, first in mid-south regionals, and placed 7th in the nation at the Nationals at Disney World in Florida. This brings us to a new stage in our growth as we have moved forward into the electronic age. Then Tommy Smith designed the Panthers first web page so the whole world can watch them grow and prosper.