It’s a beautiful summer morning with very pleasant temperatures for July. It would be the perfect day to enjoy some outdoor activities without melting away in the heat. But for approximately 225 women from the BBN, the only option was to be at Kroger Field for the annual Women’s Clinic for Kentucky Football. While the crowd was smaller than it has been the past couple of years, the enthusiasm from the ladies remained high.
There was a group from Prestonsburg who left in the wee hours of the morning so they could arrive by 7:30, the time that registration began. There were many in attendance that have been coming to this event for years, including at least one who has been to every single clinic. There were mothers of some players in the crowd. Most of all, there were a ton of diehard Kentucky Football fans.
Sure, there are lots of reasons to attend this annual clinic. You get breakfast, lunch, and a chance at some really nice door prizes. Attendees also get a nice swag bag which included a “clear bag” acceptable for taking into SEC football games. The ladies get to meet the coaches and can get their pictures made with some of the players. They also have the opportunity to go down to the field and to participate in some drills to get a better perspective on the work the players must do each day in practice.
But make no mistake about it: the primary reason the women come to the clinic each year is about the football. The coaching staff does some pretty detailed presentations, and the women appreciate that. They also appreciate the opportunity to ask questions and, as the coaches confirmed today, the women have some pretty sophisticated questions, better than “some of the questions we get from coaches” at other clinics.
Clearly, the best question of the day was one of the first ones fielded by Coach Stoops when he was asked, “How do you keep your cool when the refs (stink)?” and he immediately replied, “Xanax!” After that, Stoops had mostly serious questions and he answered all of them smoothly.
Stoops and the entire coaching staff seems far more relaxed than I’ve ever seen them at this event. Maybe part of it is they know what to expect from the women. Or maybe, just maybe it’s an air of confidence knowing they have a deeper, more talented team this year. Even the players seemed to carry that same swagger. The past couple of years, the excitement has seemed almost over the top, so perhaps all of this is just to temper fans’ expectations, but I believe it just felt different this year. And it felt different in the best way possible.
One thing we learned is the coaching staff has placed a huge emphasis on ball security this season. The women were shown video clips of the drills players perform to help them learn proper technique for best protecting the ball. On the flip side, the defensive coaches are focused on creating turnovers. Coach Stoops has told the players to treat the football “like the program is in your hands.”
So whether the ladies came for the food or the fellowship or the door prizes or simply for the football, one thing is for certain: when they departed today, they were all excited for the upcoming season. And I am, too!