For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of participating in the Ladies' X's and O's Football Camp at Beaver Stadium, organized by Patrick Steeneberg of Global Football, Inc. in cooperation with Penn State Athletics. Taught by Penn State Assistant Coach Mike McQueary with the help of Graduate Assistant Coaches Terrell Golden, Bill Cavanaugh, and Elijah Robinson, this day promised to be even more exciting than last year's inaugural camp.
Any kinks that were noted from last year's one day program were addressed, starting with the assignment of real lockers in the Penn State men's locker room, to jerseys custom-fitted to the participants' requests, to the addition of coffee in the opening kickoff session. They did a nice job organizing an agenda that had room for questions. By re-arranging a few details, they were able to free up time to cover more of the essentials.
It was a picture perfect day, albeit a bit warm - mid-80's. The audience included now both "sophomores" and "freshmen". The sophomores were, of course, the women who attended last year's event, and many of them had spread the word to friends, including me. Three women were there this year due to my enthusiastic endorsement, and who knows how many more were influenced by last year's blog post about this camp? I do know that it was one of my most popular posts this past year. And that the camp now had two sessions on two consecutive days rather than just one.
Mike McQueary started the camp by expressing the goal that he wanted to give us a sense of what it is like to be a Penn State football player...and so we went through a session where he and his assistant coaches "installed" the offense - gave us their game plan for the day.
Then we went out on the field and did some drills. This was all familiar from last year, except that I was in better shape for the drills. I had, in fact, hired a personal trainer this spring at the YMCA to help me get ready for this day so I could do those drills without harming my knee.
I was pretty happy with the fact that I made it through the morning drills in good shape and beginning to think that in fact I could play the entire game rather than stay on the sidelines shooting photos.
Lunch was in the Lettermen's Club, and we all enjoyed Spider Caldwell's stories about Penn State equipment. We got a sneak peak at the new "classic" uniform and learned about helmets and shoulder pads and even the invention of those Nike armbands that Penn State players wear.
After lunch would be another classroom session on the defense. Then more practice, then the game, a tour of the Lasch football building, and finally a banquet.
Unfortunately my body had a different idea. While walking in the recruiting lounge on the second floor of Beaver Stadium, the tread on my New Balance running shoes caught on the carpet. It was something that could have happened on any carpet anywhere, but it happened at Beaver Stadium during this camp! I tripped and fell face forward and caught myself instinctively with my arms. It happened very quickly.
Thus started an "insider's" view of the Penn State football experience that was not exactly in the script for the day...being treated by the superbly competent Penn State emergency medical staff. The length of time it took for them to take my vitals, to ascertain that I was in fact coherent, and then strap me ever so carefully onto a board to take me through the Penn State Sports Museum into an ambulance to the nearest hospital seemed like an eternity. However, it gave me a sense of assurance that they do their jobs well. When you're sitting in the stands watching a player that's down, you think the worst. But in fact it's extreme caution and professionalism that can drive a long delay.
I hear from the participants in camp that the rest of the afternoon was wonderful, and the game went into overtime and ended on a thrilling play.
I missed all that. The rest of my fantasy football camp experience was spent at the emergency room, most of that time waiting for x-rays. I did in fact fracture both my arms, and it will be a long summer of recovery. But the good news is they will heal. I can think of a number of ways in which this could have been much worse.
So...a rather novel experience. I hope not to be repeated! And I can't even claim that I suffered an injury on that wonderful turf at Beaver Stadium making a game-winning play.
An ordinary trip on a rug in a meeting room after lunch. Sheesh!
Oh well, there's always next year, and I WILL return!