Apex High School junior Jason Lockamy can remember going to a professional football game only once before – and that was a preseason game, when he was much younger.
And even though he lives within 40 minutes or so of three major universities, Lockamy has never been to a college football game either.
But on Sunday, Lockamy didn’t just attend the Carolina Panthers game. He was on the field.
Lockamy was one of 10 high school students from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia honored at halftime by the Panthers as a Community Captain for academic achievement and community service.
“He has a strong desire to be successful at everything he does,” said former Apex football coach Bob Wolfe, who coached Lockamy for two years and was named the High School Coach of the Year by the Panthers in 2003. “It’s a really great experience. I really appreciate the NFL doing these type of programs for high school athletes and coaches.”
For two years, Lockamy has served as North Carolina’s student ambassador for Shoes for Liberia, which collects shoes for those in need. He was recently honored as the program’s national student ambassador of the year.
Lockamy’s mother, Catherine Woyee-Jones, emigrated from Liberia during the country’s civil war to go to college at North Carolina Central University.
“I may not be from there, specifically, but it’s part of my culture,” Lockamy said. “To help them, it’s like helping a brother or sister.”
Lockamy set out collection boxes in his football team’s locker room, outside his house, and in local businesses around Apex. Now, stacks of boxes line his garage, ready to be shipped across the ocean.
During the past two years, he estimates that he’s collected more than 1,000 pairs of shoes.
“Apex, you know, it’s a pretty small community, so once word got out it spread pretty quickly,” Lockamy said. “We send them back over to Liberia because they contract foot diseases there from not wearing shoes.”
Apex football coach Joe Kilby was impressed with the way Lockamy committed himself to the initiative, encouraging coaches and teammates to contribute.
“He’s a great fit for what we want Apex football to be all about,” Kilby said. “I’ve had a chance to look over his list of accomplishments – it’s quite impressive.”
In April, Lockamy served as a page for Gov. Bev Perdue for a week in the environmental and natural resources department.
“I enjoyed my time there, I learned a lot about the workforce,” Lockamy said. “I got to meet the governor, which is always a good thing. She’s really a nice, sweet lady.”
Lockamy also completes a minimum of 25 hours of community service work each semester as the upperclassmen representative of the Apex Youth Council, a student-run service organization overseen by the town of Apex.
At Apex High, Lockamy boasts a 3.9 grade point average and is the junior class representative for student council. He is a member of the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society.
“He has a bunch of great things going for him,” Kilby said. “With the things he’s done in the classroom, academically, he’s put himself in great position to be a recruitable young man this time next year.”
Lockamy started at defensive end for the Cougars this past season. His size (6 feet, 210 pounds) probably means he would have to switch positions to play at the next level, but that likely won’t be a problem.
So far, he’s received the most interest from Temple, Duke, Arizona and Wake Forest.
“College coaches want character and ability,” Kilby said. “I look to him as a character guy and a leader on the field. He’s got the ability, he’s going to show that next fall. He’s the kind of kid college coaches would love to have in their program.”