There’s nothing like an evening of playing with the players to get you even more charged for the start of college football season.
On a beautiful, sunny Sunday evening, more than 100 women gathered at Milan Puskar Stadium for a chance to get up close and personal with our beloved WVU football team.
We got to chat with the team, take pictures with players and coaches, and even learn some gridiron basics by participating in basic tackling, passing and running plays.
Unfortunately, I went in on the DL due to some nagging injuries – mainly Achilles tendonosis – so I didn’t get to partake in the drills like I would’ve liked.
I couldn’t risk tearing my Achilles. (Fortunately, my sports medicine doc, S. Derrick Eddy, is a WVU grad and agreed that I couldn’t miss this amazing opportunity.) Plus, I had to make sure I was up for 2 days of golf on the Arnold Palmer Course at Stonewall Resort following the program.
This was my third time participating in Football 101 for Women. Established in 2012 as a joint fundraising event hosted by the President’s Office and Mountaineer Athletic Club, the program provides a notable WVU football experience for women who share a passion for the sport.
“It turned over to the MAC in 2013 and continues today as one of our most popular events, giving women a unique opportunity to interact with the coaches and players, as well as connect with other female Mountaineer football fans,” said Jamie Hall, assistant director of donor relations and special events for the MAC. “This year, we raised more than $8,000 through the live auction.”
I was excited to share this year’s experience with my friend Linda Grandon and her daughter, Dana. This was their first time participating in it.
“I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea we’d be doing different circuits with players,” Linda said. “I like the way we were treated. You see the players and they’re having a good time and laughing. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences.”
After enjoying appetizers and cocktails in Touchdown Terrace, we made our way to Mountaineer field through the newly renovated east side of the stadium. (Ladies, you all have Linda to thank for this since she made the request to the Women Supporting Athletics staff.)
Well, let me tell you, after seeing the changes to the east concourse, the project is fulfilling its promise to upgrade the fan experience.
In addition to a wider concourse that includes more restrooms and concession stands, those who have field box seats will get to enjoy new seats, TVs and heaters.
The west side, where we sit, won’t be completed in time for this football season, but I look forward to it being done for the 2017 season.
After checking out the new-and-improved east concourse, we made our way through Milan Puskar Center, which was renovated in 2015. This athletic training facility is impressive and the weight room rivals about any NFL facility.
After listening to Mike Joseph talk about the team’s strengthening and conditioning program, the moment finally arrived when we got to run out on the field through the same doors the team does on game day.
Then, the real fun began. We got to interact with the players and coaches on Mountaineer field.
“Meeting these remarkable young men and seeing their faces and smiles beneath the helmets allowed us to connect with the players on a personal level,” said Patricia Lake, whose son was on the team a few years ago. “And they actually appeared to enjoy the experience as well. The looks on their faces as we went through their drills…priceless.”
“The team put us in the game, if only for an evening,” Patricia said. “Being on Mountaineer field was the ultimate experience. I would like to extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to these young men and the coaches for a chance to relive the happiest of times…playing football in the backyard with my boys.”
I also want to thank the MAC staff who put this event together. Kudos to you for a job well done!
Here are photo highlights of the day.
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