UCF Ladies Knight football clinic
After receiving an inside view of the UCF football team's weight room while touring the Wayne Densch Sports Center, ladies equipped with a pink bag stuffed with UCF goodies slowly trickled into the team's meeting room to take part in the annual UCF Football Ladies Clinic on Thursday night.
Before they had worked up a sweat, catching and throwing passes and trying on shoulder pads, helmets and shoes, the majority of the nearly 200 women raised their hand when head coach George O'Leary asked if it was their first time participating in the event.
The clinic is an annual event hosted by the UCF football team that aims to expand the game by teaching women the ins and outs of a sport that is often referred to as a chess match.
"The women come out, and they really get after it. They really enjoy themselves and they have a lot of fun," O'Leary said. "They just want to get involved and understand the game a little better, so when they watch it they have some idea of what's going on."
As offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brent Key stood in front of the women, he pointed to a picture that was displayed by an overhead projector explaining spread, pro-style, no huddle and option offenses. Hands in the crowd went up and smiles graced their faces when they answered Key's questions correct.
"They come in here because they like football and they want to learn more about it. So it's not a surprise that they would know certain things about it already," Key said. "It's about showing them a good time tonight and showing them some fun. Maybe learn a little something, but also take the UCF brand and celebrate the UCF brand."
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Senior health professional pre-clinical major Lacey Mead was convinced by her aunt, who had been in attendance the past few years, to go to the event. She was unaware of what may take place at the clinic, but participated in a throwing and kicking competition in which she caught a live kickoff.
"I would have never thought we were doing any type of competition," Mead said. "It's completely different than what I was expecting … This is awesome."
The event attracted women of all ages and everyone from current students to alumni.
Elexis Ritz, who is a criminal justice program coordinator and earned her bachelor's in criminal justice and master's in education from UCF, said she has only missed one year. She said it keeps getting better and better and encourages more women to participate in the clinic.
"I love it because I feel like it gives us a new perspective of what the players do," Ritz said. "We're fans. We sit up there, and we're cheering, we have fun, but this is kind of like, 'Wow. They go through a lot more than we thought they went through.'"