Panther Club energizes student-athletes

Aug. 29, 2014

There was a lot of celebrating going on Sunday as the Panther Club presented championship rings to the men's basketball team in honor of its 2014 USA South tournament title.

"We were happy that we were able to do this for these stellar student-athletes," said David Fowler '85, a member of the organization's leadership team. "These young men worked so hard, and beautifully represented not only the college, but the entire community of LaGrange. We are very proud of all of them."

Fowler said rings were given to 15 players, four coaches and one trainer. Members of the conference champion golf team will receive rings later to commemorate their title and first top-10 finish at the national tournament.

Supporting student-athletes is what the Panther Club is all about, said Willie Maddox '81, Gift Officer in the Development Office and director of the club.

"This is the one and only vehicle where every dollar donated goes strictly to enhance the student-athlete experience," he said.

The Panther Club was founded four years ago to help raise the profile of the athletic program and the institution. Athletic Director Jennifer Claybrook said the group is an invaluable asset.

"Our athletes are fueled by the support of parents, students, alums—anyone who has an interest in helping them compete and succeed," she said. "Almost half of LaGrange students are part of a Panther team, and as a former student-athlete of LaGrange College, I can't think of a better opportunity to support athletics than through the Panther Club."

Recent donations helped the club purchase a heavy-duty first-aid tent for student-athletes, helped provide a charter bus to an away football game, funded a new website specifically for LaGrange College athletics (www.lagrangepanthers.com) and contributed to the online streaming of games on the Panthers website.

Panther Cubs

The Panther Club also bought new benches for the soccer/lacrosse field, provided new lane lines and flags in the indoor swimming pool at the natatorium, secured new softball uniforms, donated significant funding to resurface the tennis courts and purchased warm-up suits for all student-athletes.

Most recently, the group purchased two new scoreboards and a shooting machine for the basketball program. Future plans include remodeling the men's and women's locker rooms in Mariotti Gym. The club also will be sponsoring a tailgate lunch, basketball player reunion and alumni game during Homecoming.

Maddox said he has a strong personal connection to the organization's work.

"As a former basketball player at LaGrange College, I know firsthand the important life lessons I learned with my fellow athletes," he said. "I also know the thrill of being cheered on by a supportive and enthusiastic crowd. Both of my sons are LaGrange graduates and former basketball players, and I've seen how fans energized them.

"The Panther Club carries that support to a whole new level by providing our teams with additional resources to succeed."

Membership in the club begins with an annual gift of $25 for alumni who have graduated five years or less from the current year. Other alumni and friends can join for an annual gift of $50.

Panther Club members can participate in club events and receive regular updates on the athletic program, as well as a club T-shirt and decal.

To learn more about the Panther Club, visit http://www.lagrangepanthers.com/Panther_Club or contact Maddox at wmaddox@lagrange.edu or at (706) 880-8773.

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