The Tacoma Panthers football club was the answer to an existing problem: too many kids not in football or in any sport. Coach Rodney “Jack” Jackson, however, noticed this despite keeping a busy schedule coaching for the Boys & Girls Club of Puget Sound and flag football for the Civil Engineering Squadron on McChord AFB. He observed most of the children were from single parent households and/or lacked funds to participate.
After leaving the military in 1994, Coach Jack was recruited by the Parkland Raiders. With a few successful years and a championship, he still felt the south side of Tacoma’s neighborhood kids wanted to play football yet were turned away from the local clubs due to lack of funds. In the summer of 1996, Coach Jack, Coach Pat Patterson, Coach Steve Cantu, and Ms. Shirley came together with one common goal: FOOTBALL. Each came from diverse backgrounds bringing different ideas. Most importantly, they were Mt. Tahoma High School alumni and had a burning desire to bring fundamental football back to the South Sound.
“Our first year we called ourselves the South Tacoma Football Players and were labeled ‘misfits’, ‘rogues’, ‘hapless’, and ‘wannabes,” explained Coach Jack, “We wore red jerseys that said “T-birds” with different colored helmets. We didn’t care because we vowed that one day we will have our own equipment. We also vowed to be dedicated in providing quality youth football; to make it a positive experience, and to never, ever quit. The following year we borrowed leftover uniforms from the Blackhills Jr. Football League using their purple pants, black jerseys, and purple helmets with a Black Panther logo. It was then the Tacoma Panthers were born. Since then, we have been blessed to grow, learn, teach, and expand our organization to include cheerleading, baseball, Boys basketball, and Girls fast pitch softball.”
Today, Coach Jack and Coach Pat are all that remain from the original group. Although they have experienced hardships, such as losing their fathers and Coach Jack’s mother, they have remained dedicated to the vision. The organization continues to support youth in Tacoma, and surrounding communities, with the determination to build strong leaders for tomorrow. Without wavering, the Tacoma Panthers hold fast to their motto “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of Our Way!”
Coach Jack and Coach Pat recognize the Panther Alumni, Sponsors, Parents, Friends, Family, and Fellow Community Leaders who continue to support our youth of today and leaders of tomorrow. We thank you and may God bless you all!