Saturday, June 12, 2010

Penn State Ladies' Football Camp: A True Immersion Experience

Note:  This is a long article.  An in-depth description of my experience at this camp.  My goal is to take you there with me as I describe my day.  Enjoy!

Coach Joe Paterno was proven wrong.  When he first heard of the idea of a Ladies’ X's and O’s football camp at Beaver Stadium, his initial reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding.  You’ll have three women show up.”

As he made a surprise visit yesterday to observe practice drills and wish all of us well he quipped, “I didn’t realize we had that many kooks around.”  For a brief clip of Joe Paterno’s remarks, and some video of the game, click here.

This was typical Joe Paterno: down to earth, speaks his mind.  But you could tell from the broad grin on his face that he was delighted with the successful turnout.  His appearance was unanticipated, but it was not a total surprise.  How could he resist?

We were making history as the first group of females to ever play on his beloved and well-protected field at Beaver Stadium—a venue that is known more informally as “the house that Joe built.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Penn State vs. Alabama Memories: Gracious Hospitality by Tide Fans Overcomes Miserable 1988 Loss

Somewhere, in the deep recesses of some file folder in our basement, or perhaps it was just thrown out when we moved, is a business card from an Alabama fan we met in 1988. 

He resided in Dothan, Alabama, a retired ophthalmologist.  He and his wife were sitting next to us at breakfast at the Courtyard by Marriott south of Birmingham, Alabama.  They were clad in crimson and white.  We were clad in blue and white. 

We started chatting about the Alabama-Penn State game that was to occur that afternoon at Legion Field.  Neither they nor we could predict who would win.  We cordially wished each other the best, knowing very well that neither of us really meant it.  It was typical cordial college football fan banter before a big game among opposing team fans. 

Terry and I had been wondering what the best way was to get to the game.  So we figured this couple might know and asked them if they knew of a shuttle bus that would get us to Legion Field.

They told us they weren’t sure.  Then they left the table to go to the breakfast buffet.  When they returned, they said, “Why don’t you come with us?”  We’re going by ourselves and the entire backseat is empty.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Game Strategy or Kisses and Hugs? How Do You Help Females Develop a Passion for and Knowledge of Football?

In football, X’s and O’s refer to specific plays that are used in executing an overall offensive and defensive strategy for a game.  Males often learn the X and O game tactics through their own youth play experience, formal or informal, whether in backyard games, in junior high or high school, or beyond.  For many men, knowing football X’s and O’s is a part of growing up, a decidedly male thing in an overwhelmingly male sport.

For most women growing up, X’s and O’s are more associated with affectionate symbols for kisses and hugs sent on letters to friends as teenagers.  X’s and O’s as game strategy is more often an alien concept than something that is truly understood.  Most women have never tried to play football.  They’ve never seen a playbook.   If they learn it, it’s through osmosis from the sidelines or from watching TV commentary on games.  If they’re lucky, someone knowledgeable about football will explain the game to them.