Teaching the ladies football

Article about the riders doing a good thing

Gridiron girls Football 202 gives women shot at learning game from Riders’ best When I agreed to go to a women’s-only football camp hosted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I didn’t hear: “ladies-only football camp.? I heard: “Hey groupies, come pay 50 bucks and hang out with the Riders!? Arriving at the SaskTel Sports Centre Saturday afternoon, I was surprised to see so many women there — nearly 150 — some of them in their late teens and some of them grandmothers.

We were split into two groups. One group went with the offensive team and the other group, myself included, went to learn defensive positions.

When I stepped into the gymnasium, I realized how wrong I’d been about the groupie comment. Some of the women had already paired off and were throwing footballs back and forth. They could both throw and catch. They had gloves and everything. I was impressed.

Here’s the thing with football: I don’t play it.

Not only do I not play it, I don’t really even get it. I don’t know how many players should be on the field or what they’re doing out there. I play soccer — or as they say in Europe, football. I think what people here call football should be called Stop and Go.

There were three stations set up. I was a little nervous when Riders defensive lineman Scott Schultz barked at us, “OK. Hustle over. Run!?

Here’s the thing with running: I haven’t done it yet this millennium.

After we gathered around Schultz and learned the defensive position, we were told we were going to learn to push people. A woman with beautifully curled, long, black hair in front of me turned around and said, “Let’s knock him on his a**.?

My hairdresser whizzed by, ball in hand. Her hair looked great. It was all a little surreal.

And I must admit, I felt pride when after “pushing? Schultz, he said I’d done a good job at staying low — although to be fair, at 5-foot-3, it’s difficult to do anything too high.

The next station was with defensive back James Johnson and linebacker Anton McKenzie. This was the first time in the day I was expected to run forward and catch the football. Here’s the thing with catching a football: I’m not accustomed to running toward fast-moving, pointy objects.

When we got into the second gym to learn offence, I knew we’d entered into the glamourous side of football with the guys who score the touchdowns because women from the first group were still hanging around getting pictures taken with Kerry Joseph and Andy Fantuz. Now I could put a face to the names I saw on the backs of many of the green and white jerseys.

As far as being an offensive lineman goes, I learned you actually push things farther and harder when you grunt. It’s true.

Fantuz, Corey Grant and Matt Dominguez showed us how to do a post pattern, I think. We did some sort of zig-zagging. We relived what it would be like to score a touchdown. We were encouraged to do the touchdown dance at the end of our turn. I totally rocked the touchdown dance.

They told us to “go deep? and instructed us to, at the last second, hold both hands up, with pinkies together and elbows together and catch the ball. Apparently I didn’t hear the “last second? part. I ran down the length of the gym, hands up high. I was a butterfly. And when the ball got to me, it neatly passed through my arms and bounced two or three times. I don’t think being a wide receiver is for me.

It was at this point that I entered my comfort zone. Kicking. My little heart soared. If I were to ever play football again, I would definitely be on the special teams (mostly, because I can’t do anything else).

Lastly, Joseph taught us a thing or two about throwing. Here’s the thing about throwing: I can’t even throw like a girl. I was pleased, however, when my partner managed to throw some great spirals — greatly improving during the course of the session. My throws did not improve.

I’m glad I went. Our instructors were down to earth and personable, making most everyone comfortable. When I first heard about Football 202, I thought it was a conspiracy concocted by eager, male football fans trying to get their women hooked on the game so there would be less complaining during the season. I’m still not convinced this isn’t the case. And although I may not be inclined to watch the game on TV, I could be convinced to get out and try playing a little again.

jismith@sp.canwest.com

from the Star Pheonix today

Good post & link Billy! :thup: :thup: I think the CFL could use more of these style programs!

BC has a similar program Football 101. I heard its similar. Its agreat idea to get more interest in Football! :thup: :thup: