I have to admit, I don’t know much about football. I do know, however, that I enjoy watching Aggie football and cheering myself hoarse with Aggie pride.
This past Friday night, I got the opportunity to bleed that blue and gold pride at the third annual UC Davis Women’s Huddle. The huddle is an opportunity for female Aggie football fans to learn the basics of football and see what it feels like to be an Aggie football player by participating in drills.
With the fresh Aggie Stadium “grass” (read: turf) beneath our sneakers, Head Coach Bob Biggs briefed his new team for the night of activities.
“This is an interactive clinic, so we expect you to be out there, jogging around, throwing footballs,” Biggs said.
Meanwhile, the newest addition to the Aggie family sat in the nearby bleachers – Chancellor Linda Katehi.
“Today is my first time being here,” Katehi said. “I think it’s a very, very nice structure. I will be coming to the football games here.”
Katehi participated in the night’s events. She said this was her first time playing football.
After the football players that would be running the drill stations introduced themselves, we ladies headed over to the tunnel for our big entrance.
Lift up your voices
From above we could see people waiting for us to take the field, music blasting and the football team forming a gauntlet to cheer us on. Around me, close to 100 women of all ages began to chant, jump up and down and laugh. The anticipation was addicting: I myself jumped and chanted “UC Davis” with them.
Teresa Dias, a nearby football fan came all the way from Danville, Calif. with her daughter for the huddle.
“I am really excited for this, are you kidding?” Dias said. “I’m here to support the team.”
Dias said she grew up with three older brothers and knows a bit about football, but never played before. Her enthusiasm was magnified as the bright lights of Aggie Stadium shone on us as we charged the field.
At the center of the stadium, with the Gunrock logo below us, we made an actual huddle with Coach Biggs. Katehi was by my side as we put in our hands and shouted “Go Ags!”
Loyal Aggies, all for one
Season ticket holder, Laurel Gainolle, 55, from Chico, Calif. said that she is a loyal Aggie fan excited for the first game against Fresno State.
“We go to all the home games, the one in Sacramento, and even San Jose and Fresno,” she said.
This is her first time at the huddle but she thinks it is a great idea for women.
“I think this helps women to understand a little more what it feels like to play football, and what each of the positions does,” Gainolle said. “I think it will make the game a little more interesting and more understandable.”
Never stopping ’till we’re won
After our huddle, we divided into our designated teams of about seven people per team. I was on the Jets (Katehi was a 49er). We would have seven minutes at each station, and at the sound of the buzzer, we were to rotate to the next one until we finished all 13.
Earlier that day, I sprained my ankle. This made participating in drills that much more interesting, not to mention painful. One drill I could participate in was at the quarterback station. They patiently taught my team how to correctly hold a football, throw it and stand correctly. My hand-eye coordination is extremely sub-par compared to these guys, but after some practice, I was playing catch with my partner with much more ease. I definitely forgot the pain in my right ankle as I focused on catching and throwing.
Charging the enemy with all [her] might
At the linebacker’s station, we put on our meanest faces … literally. My team practiced our game face and our growl – a must for anyone on defense we were told. Then, we got into a line and practiced tackling the football players. It was a good chance for us to practice our new growls and for us to take out any frustration we had during a long week. They also taught us how to make an opposing player fumble and its importance during a game.
Today’s the day the Aggies will fight! Fight! Fight!
Coach Biggs was at a very popular station throughout the night – the refreshment station. He handed us water bottles, beer and wine, meeting the women Aggie fans.
“There’s a large part of the female population that watches football but they don’t know what they’re watching,” Biggs said. “So the intent is to teach them a little bit about the game so that it’s more enjoyable for them.”
His favorite part, he said, was to see the players and loyal fans interact.
“It always makes the game more interesting when you can match a number to a face,” Biggs said. “I like to watch our players interact with the women.”
What can Aggie football fans expect this season? Nothing but the best from the players.
“We have a very close football team with good chemistry. I found that over the years that wins more games than just pure talent,” said Biggs. “That lends me to believe that we have a chance to be pretty competitive football team.”
Aggie football season begins Sept. 5 at Fresno State.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.