Football not just a man’s game

Tim Jacobs

A group of about 30 women got an inside look at what the Kent State football program is all about. The Football 101 sports clinic last week at Dix Stadium taught about both the game of football itself, as well as the underlying jobs the staff, coaches and coaches’ spouses face day by day.

“A lot of women obviously haven’t played the game and they have some basic questions and would like to know more about (football),” football coach Doug Martin said.

Chris Pinch, director of marketing for the athletic department, said this is the second consecutive year Kent State has hosted the clinic.

“We have about 30 people both years,” Pinch said. “It’s $25 to attend, and you get a gift bag . two tickets for the game, some knickknack stuff . and you get some coupons from sponsors. Last year I got really good feedback, and there was a handful of people who returned this year.”

Twin Lakes resident Susan Haren said her foremost reason for attending the clinic was to “have a little more knowledge and not have to ask so many questions during the games.”

“(My husband) Dave watches a lot of football and my kids do, too, so when I ask questions they always roll their eyes,” Haren said. “Dave does the ‘husband selective listening,’ too, so this will empower me more.”

Football 101 began in the “K Room,” where staff and the female attendees started to get to know each other over a catered Italian dinner and introduction speeches by assistant coaches.

“This is really an inside look at football, not a fashion show or anything like that,” Martin said in his introduction speech. “(Football 101) is designed to show you what the sport is really about and what the players and coaches go through.”

The Coach’s wife

Martin then introduced his wife, Vicki, and she talked about being married to a head university coach.

“A coach’s wife . there is a lot she does that you might not hear about,” she said. “They invite these kids into their homes, feed them meals and allow them away from campus to come and get away if they need to.”

To Vicki Martin, the players are an extended family, and one of her main pet peeves with the fans is when you hear one “yell something ugly about a player.”

“I want to say, ‘Don’t talk like that about that child, he’s working as hard as he can,'” she said. “So when they make mistakes on the field, people don’t take into consideration all that these kids go through and all these families go through to make a home away from home for their kids.”

Vicki Martin addressed questions from the attendees, mostly about her initial interest in football and queries about family dynamics in a football coach’s family. One attendee asked how her husband reacts to losing a disappointing game, and she said Doug Martin doesn’t tend to take it home with him.

“He’s disappointed, yes, but we have kids and it’s not a healthy environment to bring home a lot of baggage when you have your kids watching you,” she responded. “The biggest thing is to allow him space, win or lose, to unwind since it’s such an intense three hours . he never gets angry or mad or talks about it . he makes it a point to be with the kids and he wants to give them the attention they deserve.”

Moving on

After dinner, the group moved on to tour the stadium, especially parts that most fans don’t see during the game, such as the press box, locker rooms, weight rooms and field house. At each stop, staff and coaches explained how the players condition themselves, train and make it through each game.

Kent resident Ellen Campbell said it was her first time attending the program and that “it’s interesting to get the insider perspective about the Kent State football program.”

“Northeast Ohio is such a huge football area and high schools are constantly ‘win, win, win,'” Campbell said. “And there are other colleges around the area that are big time . my favorite part is hearing the coach’s perspective, and I like it when they’re very candid and open about answering questions for people.”

The program wasn’t all lectures and explanations, though. Toward the end of the clinic came the participatory part, where the ladies got to catch footballs and run drills. Ravenna resident Diane Cammett said this was her favorite part of the clinic.

“I like to participate, and I learned a good bit about football today,” she said. “I might come back next year and bring my daughter. It was very enjoyable and I’m glad they do this.”

Contact general assignment reporter Tim Jacobs at [email protected].