July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Football 101 teaches women the X’s and O’s


News Editor

Football. The very word makes the hair on many women’s necks stand on end and sends chills down their spines.

The football season is well under way at all levels — pro, college and high school. No games yet, but practices have started and the dreaded two-a-days are becoming the norm.

And it’s the beginning of a new season for women. It’s kind of like Ohio’s seasons — winter, construction and summer. Women’s seasons are winter, basketball, baseball and football.

So, football season is upon us, a time when many women become “football widows” to their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, etc.

The affliction has may causes: men watching the game, coaching the game or even playing the game. It has many forms, too: a time of thanks, a time of disgust, and sometimes a time of indifference.

But — there’s always a but, isn’t there? — women unite and take heart. It pays to take an interest in the game. There’s more to it than men slapping each other on the butts, celebrating every little thing, and mugging for the camera.

Sure that’s all part of the circus that is known as a “nationally televised” football game. But there’s more, a lot more.

There’s a lot of heart, determination, discipline, belief and pure love of the game. Really, think about it, how lucky are the men who can say they make a living or have the opportunity to play a boy’s game? Just about every boy would want to do it, but only about 18,000 can and have done it professionally.

Everyone who has a job they love should count themselves lucky because not all people can say that and really mean it. Athletes are no different.

I enjoy football, always have. But I am a Canton native and football is in your DNA when you hail from the birthplace of the game and home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But I wouldn’t call myself knowledgeable by any stretch. I know the difference between offense and defense and how many points can be scored on a touchdown versus a safety or field goal. Start talking penalties or X’s and O’s and you’ve lost me.

Until a few weeks ago, that is. I had the opportunity to take a class at Kent State University called Golden Flashes 101: Football Clinic for Women. I would recommend it to any woman who has even the slightest interest in the game.

I was joined by women of all ages and places in life — mothers of players, girlfriends of players, wives of coaches and average Jills like me.

It was fun and it was put on by a first-class team. OK, I may be a little biased as a KSU alum, but the coaches did an outstanding job.

Never once did I feel like I was being talked down to, even if I had what I considered a dumb question. Never did they talk over my head. Everything was “Yes, ma’am,” or “You’re welcome, ma’am,” a product of a head coach who hails from the South, I’m sure. Still, it was nice.

For a modest class fee, not only did I learn about the X’s and O’s and how to think like a player, I got to feel like a player. I suited up in shoulder pads and a helmet. Not as easy as it looks. The helmet is a lot tighter than I expected.

We even took the field in the field house and participated in some drills. We were running backs, offensive linemen, wide receivers, defensive linemen and linebackers. They may not have been the toughest drills to master, but we did them and learned a thing or two in the process.

Football players tend to get an unfair rap of being stereotyped as unintelligent. From my experience, you can’t play football successfully if you have nothing between the ears. The X’s and O’s are intimidating, the drills challenging and the conditioning overwhelming.

With my newfound knowledge I’m looking forward to watching games with a different eye. I’m actually thinking about attending the Patriot Bowl at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Aug. 30 to see the Golden Flashes take on the Eagles of Boston College. My sources say it’s going to be a good game.

Coleman may be reached at pcoleman@ohio.net or 330-721-4054.