Special Report: For The Ladies

GamecockAnthem's very own Christie Richardson was on hand for South Carolina's annual ladies football clinic on Saturday. Read inside as she discusses her exciting experience at the event that every Gamecock male wishes he could attend.

Today I woke up with eager anticipation, because today I was attending Steve Spurrier's Ladies Football Clinic. Today was special indeed as it would be just us girls, and we would get our chance to show our appreciation and love for our Gamecocks.

I arrived at the Colonial Center at 8:00 a.m. along with my mother and sister. You know we girls have to do these things together. We joined the already long line of excited ladies chatting and mingling until the doors were unlocked and we were all whisked in to begin our day of training. Once we handed over our tickets, we were garnered with a brand new Under Armour Ladies Football t-shirt. It is a beauty! We were then given a goody bag and quickly found seats to await the Head Ball Coach's welcome address.

Stationed on the court were all the ball players on one end and the Head Ball Coach himself on the other. I headed straight over to the players' side. Now I must say that you can see these guys every Saturday, read about them Monday through Friday and follow them through the summer, but nothing is like being near them in the flesh. I was a little star struck, I must admit. There before me stood Jasper and Casper Brinkley, Heath Batchelor, Garrett Anderson, Nick Prochack, Ryan Succop (my heart is skipping a beat at the mention of his name), Eric Norwood, Lanard Stafford, Kenny McKinley, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Mike West, Captain Munnerlyn, Cody Wells, Chris Smelley, Tommy Beecher, and the man of the hour - Cory Boyd. They each took their turn patiently signing t-shirts and taking pictures with woman after woman after woman... hard job, huh? They were smiling widely and seemed genuinely excited by this coming season. I let each one of them know how much I loved seeing them play or couldn't wait to see them on the field, and that we were just so excited to have them on our team.

What always strikes me as funny is how quiet and reserved some of the linemen are. The ones we often refer to as "Big Nasties" and "Big Uglies" were soft spoken, sweet, and maybe just a little shy of all the attention. They were great sports for being there and awfully polite and patient for a bunch of women who seemed more like school girls on this very day.

Coach Ron Cooper was the ring master, barking out orders, restoring some sense of peace to the place and giving us all more than one chuckle throughout the day. Once we were all settled back into our seats, the moment had arrived; the Head Ball Coach was going to speak. Receiving a thunderous ovation, he took to the mic and welcomed us all for being there. Coach Spurrier reiterated much of what he'd said at Gamecock Club meetings this summer. We were indeed placing our eye on an SEC championship and the way to do that was to play smart and believe. We have to believe we can play with the Georgia's, the Tennessee's, and the Florida's if in fact we are to win those games and take the prize. He praised the work ethic and attendance of the summer workouts, talked about our outstanding effort in this latest recruiting class, and of course how he really believes we may all look back on that Clemson victory (31-28 just in case some of you Clemson fans are lurking on here) and say that it was indeed the turning point for Carolina football. He went on to show us around 15 or so "ball plays" as he likes to call them. He showed us how the plays were designed to work by breaking down video images of all our different games. This was fascinating! He would explain the play, show us the different routes, what the goal of the play design was, and the end result - a touchdown!

We were greeted by one speaker after the other; Equipment manager Chris Matlock spoke with us about our new Under Armour uniforms. And, in the ladies clinic tradition we got to see some eye candy! Ryan Succop and Cody Wells were ushered in, sporting the newest body wear by Under Armour (I really have to get my husband some of that!). Then Jasper, Casper, Cory and Kenny came out in the uniforms. This was such a treat as we were able to see the different combinations: white on white, black on black, white jerseys with black pants, and black jerseys with white pants. I don't have a favorite as they were all sharp, but that black on black sure was sweet! Next, we heard from Steve Spurrier Jr. and David Reaves. They were a regular Loral and Hardy! They taught us Offense 101. Ya'll be happy to know we knew the answers to all our questions. We are Carolina Girls after all. They went over signal calls, and all I'm gonna say is that seeing Coach Reaves shimmy was a thing of beauty.

We were then given a lesson on Defense 101 by Brad Lawing and Shane Beamer. Coach Nix came out to join them for the signal calls and again seeing Coach Lawing get put in the uncomfortable position of looking silly performing mini-acrobatics in front of thousands of women was just too much for words. Who knew those signal calls could be so funny? We were then treated to a full explanation of the game by Fred Chatham.

In the highlight of the day, and proving that this was indeed a ladies clinic, Mrs. Coach Jerry Spurrier took to the stage. She explained that this was a family and that each of the coaches' wives would introduce their husbands and their children. Steve Spurrier Jr's children performed for us a Gamecock cheer. Coach Nix's one year old daughter walked what must have been some of her first steps to her older brother's awaiting arms, and Coach Cooper's children led us in a stance chant demonstrated by his three year old son. These kids were as animated, fun, and boisterous as you could imagine. We all just fell in love with them today! What you really took away from this was an unspeakable bond between them. What you saw was one family, each rejoicing in each other's triumphs. I felt honored to have been a part of that today.

Our final treat before heading to the stadium was meeting the players. Each player would stand up and say a little about themselves. Do you know that Eric Norwood has worked so hard this summer in summer classes that he has brought his GPA up to an amazing 3.64? This was a young man who admittedly had a low GPA coming into school, but with hard work and dedication he has done it. Lanard Stafford will be graduating with a degree in Engineering, and he was a walk-on his freshman year. The strides these young men have made are something to be proud of.

I could go on and on about the excitement of this day and all the wonderful activities that took place, but what is so important to say is that you could feel the magic in the air. We are building something great here at Our Carolina; tradition, greatness, excellence, and family. To see so many women turn out to pay tribute to their love of Carolina football was incredible. Today makes me think of a phrase written on a t-shirt that proudly hangs in my closet and was worn by so many women today - "Real women love football... The rest can stay in the kitchen!"

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