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Jennifer King steps in to coach Panthers running backs at Fan Fest

CHARLOTTE — At 5:15 p.m., Jennifer King was getting ready for Fan Fest practice at Bank of America Stadium when her phone rang.

It was running backs coach Jake Peetz.

“I was just hanging out here at the stadium,” said King, who is a coaching intern on the staff. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to be there tonight.'”

Peetz had a terrific excuse. His wife had gone into labor and he was going to be by her side at the hospital. So that meant King was tasked with leading Christian McCaffrey and the other running backs at practice.

Of course it’s the practice where tens of thousands of fans are watching. But King said she wasn’t nervous at all.

“I was prepared. I’ve played in front of big crowds and I’ve coached in front of big crowds, When you’re down here on the field you’re locked in,” said King, who played multiple positions and several seasons in the Women’s Football Alliance. “And I thought the guys did well making some plays. We had some mistakes, but the guys are getting better every day.”

King acknowledged it was a big opportunity for her as she continues to develop as a coach.

“It was. Obviously I wasn’t expecting it, but I was able to show what I’m capable of, capable of having a position. I’ve run things before (as an assistant with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF), and it was cool to get to run things with the backs.”

King was cool and composed. The running backs performed well.

Should she just call Peetz and tell him he can stay home with the family?

“Nah, he’s great,” King said with a laugh, “I’ll definitely welcome him back.”

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