Tiger For A Day

by - Correspondent -
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Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger


If you get your exercise by walking or jogging around Death Valley during specific times of the day, it might not be uncommon for you to notice a couple in their early 30s ‹ one usually decked out from head to toe in Clemson attire, and the other sometimes wearing a Gamecock shirt ‹ walking.

I am not sure if wearing a Gamecock shirt around the very stadium that the Tigers play in is considered brave or just plain dumb.

Let's just go ahead and get it out in the open ‹ I graduated from The University of South Carolina. There, I said it. For those of you who think I'm brave for wearing a Gamecock shirt in Tiger Town, thanks! For those who thought the other, well....we just will not talk about that.

This issue has been a mixed emotion of pride and humiliation for my husband.

He is as proud as he can be at the accomplishment, but you can see in his eyes that he wishes it would have been another school...any school but USC. By now, you have realized that he is a Clemson fan. We have had fun with each other throughout our 10 years of marriage. We like to give each other a hard time, but take it lightheartedly...until THE BIG GAME. On that day, the marriage license is temporarily considered null and void.

I explain this to you so that you will know how I felt when I was asked, by my husband, to attend Tommy Bowden's Ladies Football Clinic.

Basically, the initial response was "the look". Men and women alike know what I am referring to. For example, when a husband asks his wife if it would be okay to watch football on a wedding anniversary, "the look" is displayed, and there are no need for words.

He quickly tried to justify his request by explaining that he really needed a female to document the experience and would I please help him out. After much thought, I decided that maybe I could use this for blackmail later and agreed to go.

The next time I want to go shop the clearance racks at the mall, and he says no, then I will simply say "football clinic." That ought to do the trick.

Will also believes that I need a lot more learnin' when it comes to football. We attend all of the Clemson home games, and there is a certain routine that is followed.

We get there fairly early, set up chairs, walk to Hardees's for the fried chicken, listen to the Pre-Game show, walk to the stadium, head for the stand that sells the $5 ice and sugar water, get the biggest one they have for me, and then head to our seats.

Once the game begins, my focus is the shaved ice. It is my source of entertainment until halftime. Occasionally, my husband will lean over and tell me why Clemson is not winning or what they are doing right. I give him a "yep", and dive back into the ice.

At halftime, it's time for boiled peanuts.

I take those back to my seat and am content with their entertainment until the end of the game. Okay, this is sort of an exaggeration, but you get the just.

I went into the clinic sort of undercover. I did not tell anyone that I went to school at USC, save one nice lady from Lexington. I am here to tell you that women are vicious and these particular women were not playing.

To disclose this information about my past would have been pure suicide. I simply walked in like I had been a Clemson fan all of my life.

To begin the day, we were taken out to the practice field where we were taught to pass, punt, and kick. The coaches gave us the complete experience by making sure to bark out orders and correct any sloppy skills. It was very hot outside and it wasn't long before I heard the first woman say, "I wonder when it is going to be time to go back inside." I will have to admit that I was thinking the same thing myself.

Some women...and you know who you are...make it a habit of yelling during the games. Such things as, "I can kick better than that with my eyes closed!" will come flying out of your mouths without guilt. I believe that this experience will change that, or hope it will. Next time you have the urge to volunteer this comment, think back to the clinic when you so confidently dropped the football, raised your leg to kick it, and instead saw your leg fly through midair while never making contact with any object. It is truly hard stuff, and even harder for a player dressed out in pads in 100 degree weather.

Now, for you men that are laughing at the thought of these ladies passing, punting, and kicking, don't get me wrong. There actually were a few women that were pretty good at these tasks. Two women, from Lexington, in my group ‹ go Group B ‹ were particularly good at these things.

They were rewarded with a football signed by Coach Bowden. As for me, I didn't win anything. Enough said...moving on... After a full hour of passing, punting, and kicking, we were taken to the McFadden Building to meet with Coach John Lovett and Coach Brad Scott. We were to be given an offensive and defensive lecture.

First Coach Lovett took us on a tour of the building. "Ladies, no dilly dallying! Let's keep moving," he said as he took us on the tour. He pointed out all of the trophies, banners, plaques, and where team meetings take place. Once that was complete, we were taken back to the lecture room.

Coach Scott began the lecture by teaching us a thing or two about offense.

He drew plays and explained them. He would periodically stop and ask the ladies what a particular play was called or what a certain football term meant. Some women knew their stuff, and called out answers easily.

I was only able to respond by acting like I was tying my shoe, or if something came out of my mouth, it sounded sort of like....duh.

Coach Scott taught us about 60 coverage and 700 coverage. He taught us what a blitz is and explained why the quarterback sometimes throws the balls into the stands.

Next, it was Coach Lovett's turn. He began by yelling, "Sit straight up in your chairs! Put both feet on the floor!" You can bet that both of my feet were firmly planted. Although, I think I did see the signs of a tiny smile showing through his sternness.

Coach Lovett was clearly loving this, and the ladies were too. They, after all, wanted the full experience.

He, like Coach Scott, asked the ladies several questions as he explained defensive plays. Most seemed to know a lot of them. We learned why poster boards with numbers on them are held up during the game.

We learned a sign that is given to the team so they will know the next play.

We also learned why defensive players are substituted so frequently.

I am sure that a lot of husbands learned some new things when their wives returned home.

After Coach Lovett's lecture, we viewed a video tape shown to potential recruits. It showed Clemson's highlights to music, such as a hard tackle or a catch in the end zone. Of course, every time a USC player was hit on the screen, everyone went ballistic. I sunk down just a little lower in my chair.

As for the rest of the ladies, they were on fire because of the tape. They were screaming, clapping, and yelling. They're definetely ready for the season to begin.

Next, it was lunch time ‹ turkey sandwich, chips, apple, and a cookie. Coach Bowden was on hand to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans.

After lunch, some things happened that I don't know if I should mention. We were told that the motto of the clinic is, "What happens at Tommy Bowden's Ladies Football Clinic stays at the clinic." Oh well, I don't think anyone would really mind.

Are you ready for the big secret?

Justin Miller, No. 9, came out dressed in full gameday gear. Then, four ladies stripped him. I kid you not.

This was all in good fun, of course. And, besides, there was a lesson to be learned here. We weren't just there to stare and whistle at a young man who has well defined muscles and whose body fat is only seven percent.

Of course not.

This was done so that we could learn what the equipment does and how much it costs. The women were allowed to remove his helmet, shoes, socks, jersey, pads, and pants.

I think some were actually disappointed to see that he had on a long pair of shorts under the pants. Obviously, those were not removed.

We learned the function and cost of each piece of the uniform as it was removed.

I think Justin Miller was loving life. At one point, his teammate, defensive tackle Eric Coleman, could no longer contain himself. He ran over and got a feel of the muscles as well.

Then, it was Coach Bowden's turn to speak. He said the explaining of the uniform has been done since the clinic began. He stated that one time, there was a particularly obnoxious woman in the crowd who kept standing up on her chair and cheering for the player while his uniform was being removed.

He began to feel scared that the woman was going to fall, so he finally had to say, "Sit down Linda!" As you know, Linda is his wife.

Coach Bowden told several jokes during the lecture, but he also gave the audience a chance to ask questions. He spoke of the upcoming season, and seasons past. He told one joke about the Gamecocks, but I will not print it here. The joke was meant for the ladies only. Refer to the aforementioned clinic motto.

Coach Bowden, if you are reading this, you can send Clemson/USC tickets as a thank you. Just kidding...but if you want to... After his speech, we were taken back out to the practice field for some offensive/defensive drills. This was not a time to play. This was serious stuff. The coaching staff did a fine job of making the ladies feel like the players.

Coach Dabo Sweeney would yell, "Where are you going?!" when anyone began their play too early. Again, this was all in good fun and the ladies loved it. Miller, Coleman and Chansi Stuckey were there as well, and they seemed to enjoy it even more. They really got a kick out of seeing the women sweating, and being bossed around.

The last session of the day included a tour of the weight room and the locker room. Well, we thought we were going to tour the weight room. When we arrived, we were actually told by the weight trainers that we were there to work.

The warm-up drill, consisting of running through a flat ladder and high stepping hurdles was shown, and then we were told to do it. This was no warm up drill....it was more like a torture drill....hard work.

Next, we were told to get on the floor for some sit-ups. During the situps, Coach Joey Batson screamed, "This isn't Pilates! This isn't Yoga! Get to work!" I am positive that a lot of women went home with some sore muscles.

We were then taken to the locker room.

The ladies were ecstatic and there was a mad dash to find Charlie Whitehurst's locker. Many posed in front of it, while pictures were taken.

The training room was the last to be shown, and the trainer explained the different methods used to heal the players.

The finale of the clinic would follow. This would be the moment that every woman there had anticipated.

Women came from as far as Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, to name a few.

They wanted to experience what some refer to as "The most exciting 25 seconds in all of college football." You got it ‹ the entrance to the field during the playing of 2001.

Just kidding! Please don't tar and feather me.

It was time to run down "The Hill."

I, on the other hand, had been dreading this for the entire day. Running down a steep hill with approximately 400 fanatical women, while trying not to fall, did not seem all that appealing.

My husband, on the other hand, had other ideas. "I need the picture for the paper," he tried to explain. Okay, I can use this for more blackmail, I thought. Our 11th anniversary is coming up ‹ I think a cruise sounds good.

So, off I go up this hill with these women. They are jumping up and down, clapping, and screaming like maniacs.

We were given the full treatment. The carpet was rolled out. On the big screen Coach Frank Howard gave his speech about keeping "your dirty, filthy hands off my rock if you aren't going to give 110 percent." Tiger Rag started to play, the Tiger shot off the cannon, and down we went!

Now, this was hilarious. We were trying not to run into those in front of us and I know almost all were praying not to fall.

Lots of jealous husbands met us at the bottom.

I somehow made it to the bottom alive, and am here to write my experience down. While the clinic didn't turn me into a die hard Clemson fan, I will agree to root for them when they're not playing USC and ‹ for reasons too long to explain here ‹ especially when they're playing Tennessee.

I will wear my Tommy Bowden Ladies Football Clinic shirt with pride, when walking around Death Valley. After all, as a USC graduate, it is an accomplishment to complete such a day.

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