Troy Football 101 (PHOTO GALLERY)

Published 9:00 pm Monday, June 23, 2014

Jarred Fleming, offensive grad assistant, gets participants pumped up at Football 101 on Saturday. (Messenger Photo / April Garon)

Jarred Fleming, offensive grad assistant, gets participants pumped up at Football 101 on Saturday. (Messenger Photo / April Garon)

Participants in the second annual Troy Football 101 event left with a mind full of football facts, a bag full of Troy University goodies and a heart full of Trojan spirit.

For the second year in a row, the university offered women an opportunity to learn more about Trojan football from those who know it best, the coaches and officials.

“Some of you know a lot more than I do,” laughed Trojan Head Coach Larry Blakeney as he met with the group on Saturday.

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He said the team was in good shape for the upcoming season. “I have always said one of the best things leadership did for this university was move us to Division-I football,” said Blakeney. “I believe we’re headed in the right direction and I believe the sky is the limit.”

He took dozens of women through the Trojan experience and introduced his staff, including coaches in charge of special teams, offense and defense.

Troy Football 101 was the brainchild of Heather Hartwell, wife of Athletic Director John Hartwell.

“Most schools in the SEC do this,” she said.

Hartwell helped plan the 101 classes at Ole Miss before she and her family relocated to Troy.

“The first year we did it here, the coaches were very skeptical. But, they were really enthused by the response,” she said. “This year, they really threw it at you. It was fun to see the coaches just light up.”

The event covered more than your basic touchdown, field goal and conversion. Women learned about the eight types of special teams the Trojans have, the team’s most-used defense formation and the reasons for a no-huddle offense.

Dothan resident Melita Smith attended the event for the first time and said she got a lot out of the experience.

“I didn’t know what a nickel meant or the technical side of the game,” she said.

Smith also came to appreciate the conditions the athletes play in after trying on the “tight-fitting” jerseys and “hot” helmet.

Blakeney’s favorite part of the day came after he and the coaches made their presentations.

“The highlight of my day was everybody knew the fight song and sang it together,” he said.

After hearing from coaches, the women headed to the locker rooms where they learned more about the uniforms and gear the team wore. They were divided into two teams and changed into jerseys before heading to the field.

The women experienced running from the Trojan helmet as an announcer yelled their names and took photos of Blakeney Field from a whole new vantage point. It was the highlight of Millbrook resident Lee Howard’s day.

“It was great,” she said. “I came last year and loved it so much I returned this year with my daughters.”

The Howards can plan on a third year. Blakeney said Troy would hold the event again. “It’ll be a tradition.”

Howard’s experience was just what Hannah Mason had in mind when she helped organize the program. She said she wanted to see more interaction between university athletics and residents of Troy. “It was about bringing in the community to see our program and the facilities.”

Hartwell agreed, “We wanted to get people interested and build that Trojan family.”

Mason and Hartwell hold similar events for softball, baseball and basketball. All of the programs will continue next year. Plans are to have Football 101 closer to the football season and to recognize participants at one of the home games.

Hartwell also hoped to have a luncheon for those involved in the events.

The Troy 101 athletic programs are for women 12 and up. For more information about the next 101 event, call 670-3683.