By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.
Who would have thought that 400+ women of all ages would be hooting and hollering ready to embark on hitting the weights, trying to get the washboard abs, donning shoulder pads to sprint wildly across the football field or doing old fashioned agility drills? That pretty much describes the Ladies Night Coach Strong 3rd Annual Women’s Clinics. Did I mention that the women were laughing and having a really great time? Each participant got an opportunity to get their picture taken with Coach Strong, me included! When my turn came around, I told him that I run by his house all the time. Well, it turns out he actually runs by my house as well but I think I am probably sleeping when he gets his daily runs in and he’s probably already at work when I run by his house.
Each participant got a bag full of goodies: a water bottle (to keep hydrated), a towel to wipe off the sweat during the on-the field drills, a pack of Gatorade energy chews (if you ran out of energy doing position drills), and can cooler holder.
Interesting facts: there were two 80+ year old women in attendance and some women from New York City, California and Texas.
We were welcomed by Coach Strong and he introduced all of his coaches, his staff, and some of the coaches’ wives. I tagged along with my neighbor, Anita, who is married to the offensive coordinator, Shawn Watson. (I personally was on a mission to meet my grandson, Reece’s, favorite player, starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater). Coach Carter, the special teams coach, was the coach turned comedian emcee who kept the clinic rolling smoothly and everyone laughing.
Coach Strong said that the team had the highest GPA this year which was great news for all of us fans. His motto as the season goes on we “grow each game as a team.” He said there were 6 starters from Louisville whom he introduced. His team philosophy is you need a “degree to be successful!”
Specialty staff members each discussed how they helped to support the team: head trainer – Kyle Johnston; equipment manager – Mike Kurowski; strength & conditioning- Pat Moorer and sports dietitian – Anna Grout.
Kyle talked about how important his sports medicine team is keeping the players healthy. He discussed the injury of Anthony Conner, who suffered a career ending injury in the Rutgers game last year when he broke his neck in 2 places. While his did not sustain paralysis which often occurs in those type of injuries, Anthony spends time talking to middle school students about the importance of getting a good education because injuries can occur and you always need a plan B, which is your education.
Mike talked about how equipment has come a long way and how it is designed to protect the players. He explained that the helmet is the most important piece of equipment. He brought three players up on the stage & they began to strip down to their team uniforms while the ladies hooted & hollered. One of the players was Lorenzo Mauldin. Lorenzo modeled his washboard abs to the delight of the ladies. Volunteers demonstrated how heavy the helmets are, how the shoulder pads fit & how effectively they cover areas to prevent injury and how tight the uniforms are.
Pat, the strength & conditioning coach, discussed how his staff helps designs programs to help prevent injury especially in the neck area. The players were able to demonstrate how effective Pat’s programs are. One look at the tight abs and the powerful arms of these players, you got the point!
Up next was Anna Grout, the team sports dietitian. Anna was a bubbly nutrition educator that explained how she is able to relate to the young players and teach them a sensible approach to performance nutrition. I was U of L’s first sport dietitian (used to be called sports nutritionist) as a volunteer in the early 90’s for 8 years. But Anna is a full-time paid employee. I was happy to learn that Coach Strong was a strong supporter of nutrition and performance and even the players seemed to get the message. Coach Strong brought Anna with him from Florida.
Up Front – In Person
Coach Carter introduced a Player Panel who fielded questions from the ladies. Two things that Teddy Bridgewater underscored were his favorite on game day was “the Cards March which gets the team up for the game and running through the smoke onto the field.” One player said his “advice to young players is to make sure to get a good education, you never know when a career ending injury can happen.”
When asked about the closeness of the team and learning about special talents of a team member, the panel pointed to the dancing ability of Mr. Washboard Abs, Lorenzo Mauldin. Coach Carter stated the music on his I-phone and Lorenzo started his moves! The ladies applauded. He was a success.
The interesting thing about Lorenzo, according to Coach Watson, is that when he came to U of L last year he was very quiet and reserved. He had grown up in the foster care system but when he came to U of L he quickly found a family-like atmosphere with the players and the coaches and he has really opened up which we all could see in his dance moves and his fun loving spirit. Coach Watson said his football talent has also exploded as well.
U of L chaplain, Chris Morgan, was introduced by Coach Strong to talk a little about his role as chaplain on campus. Chaplain Morgan has about 180 student athletes from all 22 sports at U of L attending his bible classes. He asked quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to lead the prayer before we ate our box lunches. Teddy did an excellent job blessing the food we were about to eat!
Coach Shawn Watson, the offensive coordinator, explained to us how he communicated with the quarterback. Justin Burke, one of his graduate assistants, demonstrated the hand signals to the U of L quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater and Will Stein. Then, Coach Watson explained how the quarterback started the play in motion so the team knew exactly what they were supposed to do using what I would call the words pig Latin like grunt words. This language was developed so it would throw the defense from the other team off so they could not anticipate what the offense was about to do. Ofcourse, all of the CARDs Ladies were sworn to secrecy! But when the quarterbacks demonstrated the calls in rapid progression, you could tell that many of the women still didn’t get the calls exactly, so they may not BLAB to the UK fans before they meet up in the fall!
Coach Bedford, the defensive coordinator, explained in a very simplistic way about the makeup of the defense: the linemen, the linebackers who can be part of the line or the backfield and the defense backs who are the rabbits on the team and essentially the last men standing against a touchdown.
Let the Games Begin!
The ladies were then invited to stretch on the field, go to strength and conditioning stations in the football complex to learn some HOW TOs of getting washboard looking abs, went through some on the field position drills and the grand finale was a locker room pre-game talk from Coach Strong with a wild run through the smoke onto the playing field.
For me, I had a great time reminiscing about the time I spent as a nutrition coach for the football players in the 1990s when Coach Schnellenberger was head coach and seeing how far the program has come today. Very impressive, I must admit!
Teddy Bridgewater agreed to pose with me. And he told me to wish Reece well in his upcoming football season!
Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Barbara has a new health and wellness online magazine as well.