FOUR QUESTIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH…RILEY FIELDS
Riley Fields is director of community relations for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League and has been a true friend of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
The Panthers have been a corporate partner of the NCHSAA for years and Riley is often at the press conference/information session the week of the state football championships to welcome the teams. The Panthers have a host of programs that enable them to engage the community, some of which directly benefit NCHSAA member schools.
Riley is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts.
Why is the North Carolina High School Athletic Association relationship important to the Carolina Panthers? You have been involved with the NCHSAA for a number of years.
The team’s relationship with NCHSAA is an important one to the organization. The NCHSAA has been a wonderful partner in helping the team promote the resources and opportunities the Panthers provide to high schools in our region.
From grant funding, player/ coach recognition programs, equipment donations, competition opportunities or other outreach, the NCHSAA has always been a staunch supporter in helping the Panthers serve high school athletics in the state. We recognize the outstanding work and service the association provides to high school athletics in North Carolina while serving as a national model for others to follow. In addition, we value the personal relationships we have with the NCHSAA staff.
Can you describe other ways that the Panthers try to be involved in the local community? It seems as though that is a priority for the organization.
The Panthers are a regional franchise by definition. With that in mind, there is an emphasis to serve both North and South Carolina through the team’s outreach efforts.
Our primary focus areas are education, youth wellness, youth and prep football and military support programs. Through our efforts, each year we serve around 3800 non-profit agencies, schools and other organizations in the region through programming, grant funding, merchandise donations and player appearances. Providing back to the region that has supported the team so well is important to the organization and something that we enjoy the privilege of doing.
What is your best memory of high school athletics personally, from your own involvement in them?
While my greatest successes were through track and field, my greatest enjoyment was through team sports like football. My best memory isn’t necessarily game or meet related, but it was in the aftermath of the state track meet my senior year – graduation was looming and I remember taking stock of the entire year.
It was at that point that I had the self-realization that you get out of something what you put into it. Maybe my coaches or parents had told me that previously, but I don’t know that I had ever really had that awareness, but it has stayed with me since.
Away from your work, what are some things that you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my wife Robin and fast-growing daughter Gracie is a particular joy of mine. I know I spend too much time in contemplative thought trying to figure out when the Georgia Bulldogs will win a national championship in football.
When I’m not on the track running, I also enjoy doing field research on where to get the best barbecue sandwich – that’s something you can’t just read about – you need to go out and experience it for yourself. I think I’ve developed a talent for it!