Richmond Hill High School head football coach Matt LeZotte hopes the Wildcats hit their opponents as hard as a group of women hit him and his staff with questions Saturday night.
LeZotte and his assistant coaches led a couple dozen ladies and the RHHS cheerleaders through a football clinic for women, hosted by the Richmond Hill Touchdown Club.
Along with teaching the ladies the basics of football rules, positions, formations and strategy, the first-time clinic raised money for the high school football program.
“It’s great to see the ladies being involved and wanting to know what their sons are doing and why they’re doing it,” LeZotte said. “I think they’re leaving here better football fans than when they came.”
The questions the ladies asked were as numerous and varied as entries in a playbook. They ranged from what “going for two” means to why Richmond Hill scheduled perennial powerhouse Camden County for its preseason scrimmage, which the Wildcats lost 55-0.
Several questions were about player safety and conditioning. One mom asked what parents can do to ensure their sons are as prepared as possible on game day.
“The ladies were very inquisitive. They’re sponges for information,” LeZotte said. “They put our feet to the fire and forced us to answer some difficult questions.”
The participants broke into groups for classroom sessions on tackling, offensive and defensive positions and formations, and the kicking game. Assistant coach Tom Corbin showed a video demonstrating proper tackling technique, while quarterbacks coach Rusty Perry drew plays on a white board to accompany his handouts of offensive formation diagrams.
“There are lots and lots of details in football, and it’s complicated,” said Anne Gratz, whose son Luke is a freshman wide receiver at RHHS. “I was just taking it all in and enjoying learning more about the game while we watch our boys play.”
Jamie Hamby, the mother of junior linebacker Riley Reinhardt, also was struck by the complexity of the game. Hamby said she grew up in a coaching family and has been a football fan for years, but the clinic made herrealize she “(does) not know a fourth of what football is all about.”
“The most complicated part to me was learning all of the different plays and understanding that they have to instantly process the information and then put it into action,” Hamby said. “Then, boom, it can be changed before the play even starts, and you have to know a whole other play.”
A session about football equipment enabled the ladies to try on helmets and shoulder pads. The braver ones wriggled into the tight-fitting uniform pants.
Assistant coachTommy Hensley explained that each player wears about $700 of equipment. Richmond Hill has about a hundred players on the roster and the coaching staff does not cut any players based on ability, Hensley said, so that equates to a $70,000 investment to equip the team for games.
From the equipment fitting the women moved to the gym, where coaches Chris Scholarand Chad Blanton showed them the proper technique and leverage for blocking. The coaches lined the ladies up in the five basic offensive line positions and walked them through several plays.
“Wow, I learned a lot,” Hamby said. “The stations were so informative and fun-filled.”
As might be expected for a mom, Gratz thought of safety first. She said her favorite part of the clinic was “seeing the equipment and all the safety features that are built in to the helmets and the shoulder pads, and then the weight room where the guys condition.”
Hamby’s lasting impression from the clinic went beyond the football Xs and Os. She credited the Richmond Hill coaches with providing a “foundation” for the players based on hard work, dedication, discipline and integrity.
“I learned that the staff here at Richmond Hill is amazing,” Hamby said. “They’re teaching the boys not just to play football. They are teaching them life lessons and how to be better young men.”