They ran out of the gate, onto the field, and through the tunnel of players at the end of practice at training camp on Thursday.
Coach Pagano greeted them with, “Great to have you here. Great to have all of you guys here.”
Then, he turned it over to guard Joe Reitz.
“I want to welcome you guys to the Colts family,” he said. “You guys are officially part of our family, from this day on, all the way til the end of time.”
Reitz seized the opportunity to give them a little pep talk.
“One thing I want to tell you guys is in life, tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” he said. “Everybody here has been through adversity, whether it’s been injury, whether it’s been coming from a tough background, whether it’s stuff in their personal life, everybody here has fought through adversity through life to get to this part – to be in the National Football League, to be a member of this Colts organization.”
It was a touching moment for all, including Brent Frymier.
“Actually, I had a little tear in my eye,” he said afterwards.
“These are community centers we work with in Indianapolis and we select a different community center each year,” said Frymier, marketing director for Huntington Bank in Indiana. “This year was John Boner Center and we bring them out to training camp to give them the experience of a lifetime. They’ll never forget it.”
And neither will David Clanton, who joined them.
“Their faces said it all. From ear to ear, just grinning,” he said.
Training camp is a unique opportunity for the Colts to welcome fans they may not get to see often – if ever.
“I think it’s important as a team that we serve the kids who don’t get the chance to come to games, who maybe don’t even get the chance to come to training camp but are big fans, that we can bring them out here and offer them a fun, really cool VIP day where they feel special,” said Amy Waymire, community relations assistant for the Colts. “And it’s important to Coach and to our players that they get that special experience and get to kind of enjoy a day just for them.”
And to inspire them to build their own dreams.
“Don’t let circumstances dictate what you become in life,” said Reitz. “You follow your dreams, you have passion, you have toughness in hard times, and you guys can do and be whatever you want.”
Before parting ways, they huddled up and sealed their bond.
“Family on three… Family!”
Football is family.
And the Colts family grows a little every day.