“I just remember when I was a little kid I saw one of those commercials where the [Carolina] Panthers [players] were around playing with the little kids,” explained Lawson. “I can’t remember what it was for, but I just remember I was like ‘Wow, I want to do something like that.’”
Lawson, a 6-foot-3 290-pound offensive tackle from Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic, is now seeing his service to the community come full circle as he was recently named a nominee for the “Carolina Panthers Community Captain” program.
“I really don’t know [how I would react to being announced a Community Captain],” said Lawson. “It would make me feel good and give me more drive to go out and do more in the community.”
The Community Captains program will honor outstanding student-athletes that have exhibited outstanding leadership on the football field, in the classroom and in their communities. The first Community Captain will be announced on September 10th.
After being influence by the commercial, Lawson begun to volunteer at clothing shelters and the Good Will. He then decided to make the experience more enjoyable by getting involved with sports volunteering.
“I decided to combine the two things I loved most – community service and sports,” said Lawson. “It was a fun way to do things.
“I became a volunteer for summer camps at the YMCA and I started coaching football and basketball.”
In addition to the commercial, Lawson credits his involvement with the YMCA for instilling in him values.
“I used to go to summer camp there and it was all about combining religion, service, and athletics,” said Lawson. “It just kind of taught me how to be an all-around person.”
And an all-around person he is. Lawson maintains a 3.2 grade point average and is among the top offensive lineman in the state.
With Lawson anchoring the offensive line, Catholic has won two state championships the past two years in two different classifications. Furthermore, the Cougars, who are riding a 34-game winning streak, look to three-peat despite what their critics are saying, once again.
“It’s the same as last year,” said Lawson. “A lot of people told me last year they didn’t think we could do it [because] it’s a whole different ball game in 3A. We went out there and proved them wrong.
“People say this year we were depleted [of starters]. Meanwhile, we won our first two games and hopefully we’ll keep going and we’ll win another [championship].”
On thing Lawson doesn’t have to worry about is his recruitment. After hitting the summer camping circuit hard, Lawson received a scholarship offer from N.C. State. He opted to accept the tender shortly thereafter.
The Wolfpack potentially will add not only an excellent football player, but an all-around person to their roster. And it all started with the commercial.