Football

Caravan coaches and players conduct football clinic for women

2012-10-29T23:01:00Z Caravan coaches and players conduct football clinic for womenJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

CHICAGO | It was a legitimate question.

"Why does the defense get to move around (before the snap) while the offense has to be still?" someone asked during a question and answer session as part of a football clinic for women conducted by the Mount Carmel coaching staff and players. "That doesn't seem fair."

Caravan head coach Frank Lenti shrugged his shoulders.

"Those are just the rules," he said. "In Canada, they allow two players to be in motion, but we play football in America."

And for the most part, they play it well. The Caravan program has won 10 Illinois state titles, nine with Lenti as head coach. But during its long and revered football history, Mount Carmel has never hosted such an event for women.

"Obviously, we're not going to teach them how to become football players," Lenti said, "but we thought this would be a fun fundraiser for the school, and give some of these women a better idea what we do here."

Lenti said he got the idea for the clinic from several college coaches who hold similar events.

Many of the participants who gathered at the school Oct. 17 were mothers of Caravan players. Enough signed up to fill a varsity roster.

After the opening question/answer session and a detailed explanation of the team's policies and philosophies — "We tell our young men it's not a 'Me' thing; it's a 'We' thing," Lenti said before altering the message to say, "It's a 'She' thing" as the official motto for the event — the women were grouped into four sections before participating in a variety of offensive and defensive drill stations inside the school's Cacciatore Gym.

One of the night's more amusing instances came during a drill that featured the Caravan's defensive line. When the players showed how to properly launch up field from a three-point stance, there was a momentary sense of panic from the women lined up facing the hard-charging lineman.

Fortunately, the players reigned themselves in. After all, you wouldn't think junior Steven Richardson would steamroll his own mother, Valerie Richardson, who was right across from him.

"I knew a little bit about football from watching my son," Valerie said, "but here, I learned a lot more about the nuances of the sport.

"This was fun. It was a good workout. I wish I could do this more often."

Joann Banks, of University Park, said the practice/clinic gave her a better idea of who does what on the football field.

"I learned a lot ... now I know all the positions and can follow the game much better," said Banks, whose son Marcus Banks is a senior defensive back and special teams player for the Caravan.

Shortly after the question and answer session and before the drills began, Lenti played a video clip featuring Mount Carmel's 35-21 upset win against national-ranked Joliet Catholic in 2001 — the last time the two perennial powerhouses faced each other. It's a video the coaching staff shows incoming Mount Carmel football players to stoke their pride and resolve.

Apparently, it reached one of the ladies who said that she could use some tissue to dry her eyes.

That's when one of the coaches said, "There's no crying in football ... only unless it's to make the other team cry."

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