Women’s Camp Makes the Game Real Life for Female Fans
A couple of months ago, the Auburn Commons e-mail showed up in my inbox. I try and read them whenever they are sent, but sometimes they slip between the cracks. This particular e-mail, though, caught my eye. It was advertising a women’s football camp to be offered on July 16th, making it within a month of my wife’s birthday. What better birthday gift? I thought it was tailor made for her, and I quickly signed her up.
Here are some basics on the camp: It costs $100 and includes lunch, a picture with head coach Gus Malzahn, and an autographed picture of him. Now, this is basically the same thing that you would get at any of the Tiger Trek speaking engagements which are much closer to your home.
However, things are just getting started for the campers.
After checking in at 12:30, the campers get to mingle with the assistant coaches until everyone is checked in and lunch is served at the Indoor Practice Facility. Since my wife follows Auburn football closely, she tracked down a few specific coaches
First on her list was first-year offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, who was my position coach at Sparkman High School in the 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 seasons. He also taught my wife at Sparkman.
Second on her list was receivers coach, Kodi Burns. As many fans know, Burns was a special player for Auburn, having played both quarterback and receiver before joining Auburn’s staff as a GA. While his football career was anything but stellar, Burns has become a very promising coach and has risen quickly though the ranks. Burns has now had successful stops at Auburn, MTSU, Arizona State, and back at Auburn as the receivers coach.
She also ran into Athletics Director, Jay Jacobs
After a lunch from Chicken Salad Chick, the campers had their photos taken with coach Malzahn before being split into two groups, Orange and Blue. They alternated between the following: Defense—Team Meeting Room, IPF with Defensive Overview/Install—Weight Room, Sports Performance/Character Development Overview, Offense—Rane Room, and IPF with Offensive Teaching with Coaches and Offensive Overview, Coach Malzahn and Rules Overview—Team Meeting Room.
Finally, the entire camp reconvened and bused to Jordan-Hare for a tour of Tigers Den and Locker Room. Coach Malzahn gave closing remarks and a group picture was taken.
When asked about the camp, my wife had some interesting thoughts and comments. We had both assumed that this camp would go one of two ways: it would be a glorified meet-and-greet with no real substance, or it would be an intense, hands-on camp. It ended up being somewhere in the middle.
The coaches were engaging and went through actual drills and concepts with the campers. The more interested the camper was with the concepts, the more the coaches were willing to go in- depth. In other words, some campers were satisfied just understanding the names of the different positions while others were hungry to understand alignments and coverages.
The coaches did a fantastic job identifying the types of campers and tailoring the experience to everyone. My wife was assigned to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and assigned the role of defensive back. He would call a play, set an offensive play into motion and after the play, quiz the campers on whether or not they had responded correctlyly. Just when campers thought they understood how it worked, he would then translate it to game speed with his own players to show just how fast and hard the game really is.
Due to time constraints, she was unable to have the same experience with the offensive side of the ball, though the offensive coaches and as all four quarterbacks were introduced by coach Lindsey. For many of these campers, it was the first time that a face was put to a number.
What did my wife have to say about the camp?
First, it was well worth the $100 charge, just for the lunch and meet-and-greet. Keep in mind that Auburn charges 10 times that amount for the men’s camp.
She really enjoyed that the assistant coaches were made available and that they would listen and talk as long as campers wanted.
Of course, she was particularly interested in the schemes, play calling, and execution. Though she only did the defensive portion, she was able to learn a lot that watching games on TV would never provide.
The strength and conditioning aspects, including nutrition, were really eye-opening. This, coupled with the character building and all of the resources given to these players, provides the football players with an amazing opportunity. She said the involvement in their personal lives, whether it is the graduate assistant who checks on them every evening or the mentoring they receive, is particularly great. That’s especially important considering that many of these young men never had a father figure nor anyone that has ever said, “I care about you.”
Auburn is making sure these men are prepared for a life outside of football by taking care of the young man first and the athlete second. “It was an awesome thing to see what Auburn does for these men and something I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” she said.
What would she like to see improved?
Since she was the youngest of the fifty or so campers, she felt the camp needs to be marketed to a younger crowd.
More emphasis needs to be placed on bathroom facilities and breaks. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of women inside the IPF and team rooms and, as such, there are few bathrooms. Campers missed a lot of time and instruction because there were no dedicated bathroom breaks.
If the camp could be broken up into multiple groups, it would benefit both those just happy to be there but aren’t truly interested in learning the game and those who really want to learn the intricacies of the game. It is difficult for both to co-exist and, many times, my wife felt like the presence of the former really shorted the latter. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to meet coaches and take a tour, but it left something lacking for the other type of camper.
It is possible that this caused some of the time constraints that resulted in missing half of the camp. As noted, my wife missed the offensive install portion, something she would really enjoy. Perhaps the camp needs to be a two-day event. While it might cost a little more money, I don’t think potential campers would complain.
All in all, this was a terrific camp, and Auburn should continue it. Although there are some improvements that could be made, I’d encourage any lady who loves Auburn football to spend $100 and attend the next one.