You know how much I love my football. And not just the Colts – I love watching pretty much any NFL game. I’ve been watching for years, which is what makes this next part a little embarrassing to admit.
You see, I love the game but I don’t actually know it that well. I know the basics, but start throwing terms like blitz, neutral zone, screen pass and Tampa 2 defense around? I’ll nod emphatically like I know what you’re talking about, but in reality I haven’t a clue. It was getting to the point where I was too embarrassed to ask, because most people assumed I already knew. The more I watch the game, the more I want to know. Sure you can enjoy football with only an appreciation for touchdowns and tight pants, but think about how much more you’re missing by not understanding the finer details.
The Colts know there are women who would love to gain a greater understanding of the game, as well as get an inside look at how the NFL operates. Every year they host Women’s Clinics to help you distinguish your Tight End from your Tackle. I had the opportunity to attend Women’s 101 last Tuesday.
Let me just say, for a girl who loves the Horseshoe, it was an amazing experience. We started the evening with dinner provided by Abuelo’s. Following dinner we split into 3 groups and attended 3 sessions: Officiating, Positions and Plays, and Football 101. Our teachers were none other than current and alumni players, an official, and other Colts personnel.
In true Sports Center fashion, here are a few highlights from the evening:
Our teacher was Jim Disney, a retired college official. We learned about how you become an NFL official, the different responsibilities on the field and the basic calls and penalties. Jim passed around a penalty flag and I finally learned what that black thing they wear on their wrist and finger is: a handy way to keep track of which down it is. It’s like the official’s version of what we ladies use to remember which side we last nursed on – genius!
Positions and Plays
Next we were off to the Colts indoor practice field to meet up with former Colts and Packers player Mike Prior. Between the AstroTurf and diagrams of plays on the whiteboard, it felt very official. Mike’s had a few good seasons in his career, can you tell?
We talked about the offensive and defensive positions, formations that the players will line up in, and then we got on the field to run a few plays. I lined up as Reggie Wayne, wide receiver for the Colts. I never saw one football … you can bet Andrew Luck’s gonna hear it from me.
The goal of this session was to teach us the basic game of football – huddles, downs, scoring, etc. But you know what happens when you put Colts punter Pat McAfee in charge? The ladies will go a little nuts and want to talk about his Boomstick instead (look it up, I promise it’s safe for work). Center Mike McGlynn helped out as well. We were able to ask questions about what life is really like in the NFL. This was the highlight for me, because that’s what I love – the stories.
I asked about money – specifically if the NFL gives young players much in the way of advice about how to handle it. According to Pat and Mike, it’s covered extensively in the Rookie Symposium (the workshop all NFL rookies are required to attend). That doesn’t mean the message gets through, though. Mike recounted a former teammate of his who blew through $1 million in a weekend. And both players agreed that the money is the biggest stress of life in the NFL – making sure you’re smart with it to make it last for your entire life and dealing with the people who want a piece of it.
It was fascinating to look around and see all the different types of women in attendance. I met girlfriends taking the chance to combine some football fun with a Girls’ Night Out. I met moms attending with daughters. All ages were represented, but my favorite was a sweet lady in my group who claimed to be 75. I’m not sure I buy it – she was tough to guard as we practiced positions!
I left the Colts facility on cloud nine. Whether you want to learn more about the game or you’re simply a female fan who wants to get a unique NFL experience, you’ll find it well worth the money. The Colts also offer a 201 Clinic. Former and current players along with Colts personnel coach you as you hit the field and learn about the game in a more hands-on environment.
Both clinics are held every fall. While you’ll have to save 101 for next year, there’s still time to sign up for 201 – and you don’t have to have attended 101 to take part. Women’s 201 will be held November 13, 2012. Cost is $70 and includes dinner, a guide full of information you’ll refer to all season long, and a bag of goodies (mine had a super sweet Colts hoodie AND coupons for Blue Bell. Score.), and the experience of a lifetime! Act fast, though, as registration closes 2-3 weeks ahead of the class date.
If you’re anything like me, you had no idea such a cool opportunity existed in our football community. And maybe, once you found out, you were a little anxious about going. Maybe you feel weird going by yourself. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll ask a silly question. JUST GO. You’ll have a blast, whether you’re solo or with your best girlfriends. By the end of the night you’ll find yourself in a Colts sandwich and you won’t want to leave.
Or maybe that’s just me … but I doubt it!
Many, many thanks to the Indianapolis Colts who allowed me to attend Women’s 101 as their guest. You better believe you’ll be seeing me at 201 in the future!