Panthers Honor Metzger
By Brian Rosen
The annual Carolina Panthers Coach of the Week program recognizes outstanding high school coaches that make positive impacts on their student-athletes, schools, and communities. To begin 2008, the Panthers have chosen coach Chris Metzger from Pinecrest High School. Coach Metzger was hired as the head football coach of Pinecrest prior to the start of the 2007 school year. When he accepted the position, he was well aware of the situation he was getting himself into.
During a six-year span before Metzger's arrival, Pinecrest won only eight games and had not won a conference game since 2002. The program was on the brink of extinction as school administrators almost canceled the varsity program after the 2006 season. Metzger, at the time a 15-year high school coaching veteran, jumped at the opportunity to rebuild a fading program.
Once on campus, it was apparent that Metzger was not going to let the students, faculty or community dwell in the past. His theme for the first year was "Rip Off the Rear View Mirror." By this, Metzger wanted everyone to forget about the past and start focusing on today. Metzger's impact was immediate. In 2006, there were 60 student-athletes in the entire football program. However, during Metzger's first season, Pinecrest had over 200 students come out for football.
"More amazing than that," Metzger says, "when my staff and I arrived at Pinecrest, over 50 percent of the student-athletes interested in joining the football program were academically ineligible. As of today we have over 50 percent of our program of 200 student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or above."
Assistant Principal Keith Davies says, "When Chris [Metzger] took over the program, it was dead; period. We had a total of 60 students in the program for all of our teams. We could not even field a varsity team without the risk of having our kids injured due to lack of participation. What a change he has made."
Along with being a football mentor, Metzger also places a huge emphasis on academics and community service. Not only do his players have on-field goals, but they are also given personal goals.
"We want to be ready to achieve all of our goals," said Metzger. "We expect all of our players to work hard in the classroom, in the community, and on the field. We want to get better every single week."
Metzger and his players take part in regular community service activities, including Friday reading days at local elementary schools, helping with the upkeep of local youth sports facilities and volunteering in multiple civic projects that benefit the local area.
Metzger says, "My coaching philosophy is to utilize football as a vehicle for helping student-athletes become accountable, responsible, first-class citizens. We focus on the total person with a huge emphasis on respecting others and giving back to the community. We are committed to young student-athletes becoming champions in the game of life."
Joel County, Pinecrest principal, says that Metzger's influence reaches far beyond the football field, and his impact on the school reaches far beyond the campus proper.
"Coach Metzger oozes with enthusiasm, good moral character and a positive attitude that is genuine and sincere," County says. "Since the day he stepped on campus in March of 2006, his personality has been catching on to everyone: coaches, faculty, students, parents, and the community as a whole. As a school, attendance and grades are up, and discipline problems are down."
This new philosophy, along with Metzger's upbeat attitude, is also apparent on the football field. The varsity team went 3-8 in his first season, which may be subpar for most teams, but for Pinecrest, it was a great start. Building off of last season, Metzger and his Pinecrest Patriots have started the 2008 season 3-0 and are definitely not looking into the rear view mirror.
Metzger is a native of Louisville, Ky. He attended Kentucky Wesleyan College where he played wide receiver. After graduating, he began his coaching career and for the past 17 years has brought his inspiring coaching philosophies to high schools across the country. He has coached in Kentucky, Maryland, Florida and has finally found a home here in North Carolina with his wife, Laura, and three children: Lexy, Austin and Jadyn. When it comes to coaching, Metzger says, "I do not look at it as a job, as I do not feel I have worked a day in my life because of how much I enjoy what I do."
In addition to receiving this award, Metzger and the Pinecrest High School athletic department will receive a $1,000 donation from the Carolina Panthers and the National Football League.
The Carolina Panthers would like to congratulate Chris Metzger and the Pinecrest Patriots and wish them continued success.
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