Last night, Coach Strong held his 3rd Annual Women's Football Clinic under the lights at Cardinal Stadium. (Author's Note: I hate referring to the stadium as "Papa John's" since the man did give just as much money to that other school in the state.) A record number of women attended to learn about our Cardinal team as well as donate our "blood, sweat and tears" as Coach Bedford requested. We sat on the Party Deck (in the south end zone) and listened to:
- The head trainer, Kyle Johnston, talk about the prevention of injuries and how they rehearse different scenarios so they can be prepared for situations like Anthony Connor's. (We were able to see this during the drill portion of the evening when one lady fell and the training staff was around her with in seconds.) He also noted that the equipment staff had our players in the two best helmets that were available.
- Mike Kurowski, head of the equipment staff, had several players dress in uniforms and "model" them. This is always one of the more popular segments during these clinics... :)
- Miss Anna, the team nutritionist, is a very cheerful lady who talked about getting the "fluff" (translation: fat) off of the players. She works with each player to improve their diet and get them to the weight that they need to be for their position.
- Coach Watson taught us the snap counts along with Will Stein, Teddy Bridgewater and Justin Burke. I swear I will not complain ever again when we are whistled for a false start. (Yeah, let's see how long THAT lasts.) He also showed us a few hand signals that Justin uses to call the plays out to the quarterback.
- Coach Bedford had a Q & A session after some one apparently complained about last year's video being too graphic (a lion chasing & attacking his prey). There was a player panel that included 7-8 players and we got to ask them questions. Side note: their prediction for the UK game is 70-3, something all of us loudly cheered.
After all of the presentations, we headed down to the field for stretches before going to the drills. Unfortunately, I have a Preston Knowles foot injury, so I was unable to particpate, but that did not stop me from watching. There were four different rotations: 1) weight room with Pat Moorer, 2) Trager Center with Kenny Carter, 3) running the stadium steps in the bottom bowl and 4) the relay where you put the jersey/shoulder pads on and run to the other side. (I'm still not sure that the football team actually does this...)
Finally, there were 10 stations on the field that we rotated around that involved different skills, such as a wide receiver station, a running back station, quarterback station, etc. Once those were completed, we all met in the end zone and ran a 40-yard dash divided into age groups. The 60+ year olds are definitely my heros!
There are so many highlights of the night, but here are the best ones:
- The coaches did not take it easy on any one. They were heckling everyone for everything. Coach Strong was even heckling his own wife! Coach Carter is the best, or worst, at giving people crap. But, despite the good natured barbs, you can tell that there is a genuine care underneath it all. It isn't a bitter feeling at all.
- The players that were there, and there were too many to name, were having a ball. There were several that were unable to stay the whole night, but I think it says a lot about the calibre of people we have on the team for those that showed up. It was impressive... even if it was for a small period of time.
- There was a t-shirt contest for groups of, I think, 6 or more. There was a tie between the "Coach Strong's Tight Ends" with a picture of Coach on the back, and the "I'm too pretty to go to Kentucky (front)/ I'm a Strong Woman (back)". Since this was the first year for that, I'm positive next year will be bigger with the shirt ideas.
- This is Coach Strong's 3rd Women's Clinic and it is my 3rd year to go. It is simply amazing to see the changes in the HS Football Complex over the last three years. Positive changes. The weight room alone has gone from drab and dull to a place that exudes confidence and power. In the locker room, there is a sign by Johnny Unitas, "Talk is cheap... Let's go play!" I know you can't make assumptions based on a man's interior decorating skills, but, these changes lead you to believe that things are happening.
- This was the first year the clinic was held at night and while being on the field is pretty cool, nothing compares to being on the field under the lights!
- While I had to jump to touch it, I touched the "Cardinal Pride" sign the players tap after leaving the locker room.
- At the very end of the night, we were again divided into groups and got to run out of the tunnel to the intro music, with the smoke, just like the team does at the start of the game. Add 50,000 hopefully rabid Cardinal fans in the stands and a marching band lining your path and if that doesn't get the players pumped up, I don't know what would.
- I now have a picture with Teddy Bridgewater. I admired his football skills prior to this night, but after listening to him speak to women of all different ages, watch him take hundreds of pictures and patiently sign just as many autographs, my admiration of him as a person shot through the roof. He is as humble as he is talented... that's a rare quality. Prior to our dinner, Teddy said the grace, which was quite possibly the best prayer I have every heard. He is mature beyond his years. I wished him a great season, gave a super big smile for the camera, and he thanked me for coming to the clinic.
Ladies, if you haven't been yet, make plans to go next year. This gets bigger and better every year and it is so much fun. My Mom and I make a "Girls Day" out of it and have a blast.
Guys, you should seriously be jealous that there isn't a Man Camp. But, if your female counterpart likes football even a tiny bit, sign her up for this next year. She'll love it.
I'm already looking forward to next year!