Almost exactly a year after actress, producer, and Park View High School alumna Hilarie Burton made a surprise appearance at the high school’s pep rally to announce she would help get the varsity football team
Last year, Park View did not field a varsity football team, because too few students tried out. After she heard that, Burton, along with Play to Win Director of Branding and Design Tony Canonico, came back to their alma mater to launch a grant organization among Park View alumni and the Sterling Park community, Project Patriot.
That organization blew past its $10,000 fundraising goal, raising $15,164. The money will now be made available to any club at Park View through grants and an application process. On top of that, the NFL Players Association contributed $10,000 to buy cleats—and then some—for the team, and Nike offered the team a 40 percent discount on the cleats to make the money go a little farther. Play to Win and Loudoun Sports Angels covered the cost for every player to go to football camp. And this year, Park View High School has a varsity football team.
Burton was joined at Park View Thursday by Canonico, Principal Kirk Dolson, NFL Players Association Business Development Manager Cary Grossart, and football great Clinton Portis to celebrate the team’s turnaround. She said once adults removed the economic roadblocks to playing football, the players showed up.
“It wasn’t the kids who weren’t showing up,” Burton said. “It was us. It was the adults. And so now that we’re all on the same team, we’re all supportive and we’re all excited, I’m really proud to see how this whole program is moving forward.”
“My advice to everyone, especially participating in sports, is enjoy it,” Portis said. “You don’t realize it now, but this will be the time that you look back later in life and these are the wonder years.”
Burton said she was connected to the NFL Players Association through Sterling resident and attorney Ibrahim Moiz.
“To the students and the players who are going to receive something from this, all I have to say is, when you have a chance to give back, make sure you pay it forward,” Moiz said.
Burton also thanked Bow Tie Strategies—founded and run by Rusty Foster, who worked with Burton in state and regional student government; the Loudoun Education Foundation; and Buffalo Wing Factory for their support. Buffalo Wing Factory will host a spirit night on Sept. 11, with a portion of sales going to the football program, and on Sept. 14 will be collecting sports drinks and snacks for the team.
Last year, Park View varsity players were invited to transfer to Dominion High School to play for the Titans that season, and nine made the move, according to Athletic Director Jason Testerman. The Virginia High School League waived its rule that prohibits students from playing athletics in the first year they transfer schools.
“I think this is going to be a great rebuilding year,” Burton said. “I see all the folks in this room and I am just so, so grateful.”
Dolson said he often tells his students to “make great choices.”
“The people in this room all made a great choice, and to me it’s the only choice a person in this world should make—it’s to believe in you,” Dolson told the students.
Burton graduated from Park View in 2000. In her time there, she was student council treasurer, vice president, and president; captain of the cheerleading squad; and homecoming queen. Today, she is best known for playing Peyton Sawyer on the TV drama “One Tree Hill” for six seasons, along with recurring roles on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “White Collar,” and the “Lethal Weapon” TV series.
Portis was the starting running back for the Washington Redskins for seven seasons and is considered one of the team’s all-time greats.