CHARLOTTE — It can sometimes be tough to put down roots while working in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers Coach Frank Reich’s three daughters have lived all over the country -- they’ve followed their dad’s career as a player and now, a coach. But there’s one place they’ve always called home. Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis met them at the Original Pancake House in SouthPark, a place close to their hearts.
“Every Sunday after church, we’d either come here or Fuddruckers ... so I would always get the chocolate chip pancakes, and my dad would get the 49ers,” Dr. Aviry Reich shared.
It’s somewhat surreal for Lia Reich, Dr. Aviry Reich, and Hannah Fairman to all be back in Charlotte together.
“When this opportunity for my dad to work with the Panthers started to be on the table, I don’t think we even let it be in our minds that it could be a reality,” Lia said. “Because we’ve all been living in North Carolina for years, all married guys from the Carolinas, and like what are the chances? 32 teams, 32 head coaching positions and this is where we all land? It’s a God thing.”
For the most part, Charlotte is where the Reichs grew up. The sisters were either not around yet or too young to remember their dad’s significance as a Carolina Panther the first time around. But this time, they’re ready for it.
“We’re just happy to be here,” Lia said. “I know that Panthers fans have this urge to have a team that they can really get behind. There’s nobody -- my dad, our whole family -- that wants a world championship more, like we get it. Like we’re here for it. How can we play a role as a family in bringing the community together around a team?”
The news was especially cool for Hannah, as she was already working for the team.
“It was very quiet in the stadium ‘cause no one really knew what was going to happen, and then it was announced and it went on all the screens inside the stadium, like ‘new head coach,’ and I had to walk out of my office and started bawling,” she said.
They’re all so clearly proud of their dad on and off the field.
“He’s a leader in so many areas of life,” Aviry said.
“He took a long break from the NFL. What are the chances you can get back into it and be this successful to this level?” Lia said. “It just is a testament to their work ethic and commitment.”
Before coaching, Frank Reich joined a Charlotte seminary and pastored a local church.
“I will say when he took that time off to become a pastor, it really was due to him really wanting to be more involved with our family. And so now that he’s back into coaching, it’s a big reason why we want to be so committed and involved, because he made that sacrifice for his career to watch us grow up,” Aviry said.
They also said their mom deserves a lot of credit.
“I think for every football family, it’s so important to remember,” Lia said. “My mom moved 32 times in her life, so much sacrifice and the sacrifice she made for us.”
“My mom is the real hero here,” she added.
Both Aviry and Lia are now parents themselves. Aviry is also a sports counselor, and Lia is the advocacy director for the family’s foundation, kNot Today, something the whole family is incredibly passionate about.
Of course, all three sisters are football fans. They laughed at first when Gillis asked if they were.
“Everyone always asks us that,” they said. “We’re the biggest Panthers fans.”
“It’s a good question because after the tenure of whatever team my dad’s with, it’s out with the old, in with the new. But this one’s going to stay forever because we’re rooted in North Carolina, so regardless of the outcome, we will forever be Panthers fans from here on out,” Aviry said.
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