Bryan Volk, offensive coordinator for the football Rams, had participants get into formation to explain what an "option play" was. Photo by Gina Vergel
Are you ready for some football?
Some female members of the Fordham community are, thanks to an exclusive clinic for women sponsored by the football program on Sept. 9.
The University coaching staff guided about a dozen women through the ins and outs of football strategy at the William D. Walsh Family Library. The coaches presented detailed explanations of the game accompanied by film clips of the Rams in action.
"We hope to make football more enjoyable for you by giving you a better understanding of it," said Head Coach Tom Massella, adding that his wife of 16 years has little knowledge of the sport even though he has coached it for more than two decades.
"My goal is for you to leave here with a little more knowledge about the game than you had coming in," Masella said. "If you happen to be in a conversation where they’re talking sports and football, hopefully you can jump in and debate situations or circumstances."
The women received a glossary of football terms and learned about option plays, screen passes, zone coverage, gap defense and the 3-4 alignment, among other topics.
Offensive Coordinator Bryan Volk discussed what it takes to get the ball into the end zone, while Defensive Coordinator Patrick Moore talked about stopping those efforts.
The intimate setting put participants at ease when asking questions.
"Why does it seem that the quarterback is the most popular player on the team?" someone asked.
"Why are their so many running plays? Why aren’t there more passes?" asked another.
This is not to say that, as a gender, females do not enjoy football. The majority of women who participated in a 2007 Harris poll named NFL football as their favorite spectator sport.
Of the league’s 50 million "avid" fans, 30 percent—or 15 million—are women, according to the NFL. League research also indicates that more than 45 million women watch NFL games on TV each weekend
Several women at the clinic already were familiar with the game. "If the quarterback is throwing a pass and it’s knocked out of his hand, is it a fumble or an incomplete pass?" one wanted to know.
Another asked Masella for his opinion on using bowl games to crown a national champion as compared to staging a football playoff.
Fordham College at Rose Hill junior Christine Johnson said she had a working knowledge of football but decided to attend to hear the coaches’ perspective on the game. She also thought she would get to throw a pass or two.
"I thought there was the possibility of girls playing football, and that would have been fun," she said.
At one point, Johnson and other participants did get in formation on the stage of the Flom Auditorium to gain a better understanding of what an "option play" was.
Masella said that future iterations of the clinic might include more of an interactive segment.
"Hopefully we can get on the field, get in formation and maybe run a play or two," he said. "For our first year, I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, learned a little bit and will spread the word about it and it can grow from here."
Eboni C. Dunlap, a guest of Defensive Line Coach Malik Hall, said she definitely learned a thing or two about the game.
"I’ve always watched football, but I feel a lot more confident now after attending this program," Dunlap said. "I’m so glad I was able to ask questions that I might have been embarrassed to ask elsewhere."
The women’s clinic was the brainchild of Athletic Director Frank McLaughlin, who introduced the idea a couple of years ago, Massella said.
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, and the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y.