The Colts players have been at it for weeks now – building their strength, conditioning, and skills – with a focus on the coming season.
And they’re counting on their fans to do the same.
“They have to be able to handle the weather, handle the opposing team’s fans,” said linebacker Edwin Jackson. “It gets hot, it gets cold, we’re going to need to have them sticking with us throughout the season. So, they’re going to have to be in shape.”
On Saturday, the Colts gave female fans the opportunity to get a head start on their offseason training.
“This is our inaugural Women’s Mini Camp,” said Colts Marketing Coordinator Ashley Powell. “This kind of feels like the offseason for a lot of people, even though we know within these walls that there is no real offseason. But I think for the fans, this is like, ‘Ok, football is coming.’ It’s OTAs and it’s going to be Mini Camp, pretty soon it’s training camp, and then preseason.”
And to help them prepare, they brought in players to do on-field drills and coaches to break down film, game prep, and give them a more comprehensive overview of the game of football.
“I love this event because you can feel passion,” said Colts Youth Football Coordinator Phil Andrews. “These ladies are really passionate and they want to learn everything. They love the behind the scenes with the players of course, but learning the game of football is the most fun.”
They started on the field in the Colts practice facility, where Colts players John Simon, Ryan Kelly, Edwin Jackson, Robert Turbin and alumni players Mike Prior, Marlin Jackson, and Rick DeMulling coached them through different stations where they focused on throwing, catching, tackling, footwork, and ball handling.
“When you hold the ball, there are four points of pressure to protect the football,” Robert Turbin told his group. “When we’re going through these drills, you want to hold the ball correctly, because I may sneak up behind you and poke it out. If I poke it out, you might have to do five pushups as a penalty.”
As a running back, Turbin knows the importance of ball security.
“No fumbles,” he said. “That’s the worst word in football – fumble, unless the other team does it.”
As a newcomer to the Colts, linebacker John Simon spent a lot of time answering questions and getting to know some of his new fans – and he was impressed by what he heard.
“Just how much they know about football,” he said. “You can tell they’re true fans of the team. It’s always fun to come out here and meet them and interact with them.”
Still, he saw some areas for improvement.
“Their pass rush could use a little bit of work,” he laughed. “But that’s something we’ll work on. That’s why they’re here.”
Center Ryan Kelly felt good about the progress he saw as the day went on.
“The talent pool is good, but coaching is really what’s going to bring a good competitor out around here,” he said.
Along with their running and throwing game, Kelly worked with the women on their selfie game.
“They obviously didn’t grow up playing football, but they’re just such big fans.”
One of those fans, Hannah Dossett, said the on-field drills made her appreciate what the players are able to do that much more.
“We can armchair quarterback watching it on TV, but actually being out here and doing it and being under pressure – it’s great,” she said.
Even if the pressure isn’t exactly the same – or even close to the same.
“I can’t imagine a 250-pound man running at me and having to protect the ball and get away from him.”
Caroline Cooper drove down from Chicago to get a feel for the team her son, tackle Fahn Cooper, signed with this offseason.
“I’m actually coming out here to bond with the team, to know more about the Colts, and the women fans – they are amazing,” she said. “I’m so impressed! I’m really happy to be here and I’m really happy my son is here.”
And she brought his aunt, Valeria Hampton, with her.
Hampton calls herself Cooper’s second number one fan. She was in for the drills – just not all in.
“We’re not breaking any nails today,” she laughed.
Before they wrapped up on the practice field, the teams competed in a timed drill and Simon coached his group to victory by focusing on fundamentals and technique.
“A lot of the other teams weren’t syncing their hips, so they couldn’t round those turns as fast. So, I think that helped us out in the long run.”
The women had lunch and wrapped up the day with presentations from Colts Assistant Special Teams Coach Maurice Drayton, Defensive Quality Control Coach Jeff Popovich, and Director of Player Engagement David Thornton.
It was a long day, but a day well spent for fans looking to get a leg up on the competition.
“They’re possibly going to know more than their spouse or significant other or whoever they’re with,” said Powell.
But mostly, they’re just looking to become better fans.
“It’s so empowering,” said Dossett. “I’m so glad the Colts are engaging women like this because we can sit on the sidelines and cheer and everything, but actually doing it – it’s like, ‘Holy crap, this is so much fun! No wonder these guys love doing their job.'”
And these women know that the more they know about the game they love, the more they’ll love the game they know.