While training camp for the San Diego Chargers is still a few short weeks away, the team’s official fan club hosted one of its’ own Friday night at Qualcomm Stadium.
Lightning Ladies Training Camp, sponsored by UC San Diego Health System, gave its’ members a unique opportunity to take to the field and learn from Chargers coaches and former players.
“This is so much fun,” said long-time punter and Chargers great Darren Bennett. “It really is terrific. These women are very knowledgeable fans and it’s a blast to be around them. They love the team and they love being out here. I’m having as much fun as they are.”
The event kicked off with quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell screening practice and game footage on Bolts Vision while giving a crash course in film study. Everyone in attendance was mesmerized as he broke down the different types of plays drawn up for
“I think they learned something about the preparation that goes into the game,” said Ramsdell. “Even if they don’t remember everything, that’s ok, because they saw what goes on during our sessions and hopefully they take something out of it.”
Ramsdell also spent time teaching the ladies how to throw a perfect spiral. Each member then had an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of him.
“This is a great experience for these women,” he said with a big grin on his face. “They get to come out onto the field and spend a nice evening learning about football. It’s just a special event.”
On the far side of the field, Bennett gave the women a crash course on kicking a field goal before giving them the opportunity to try it themselves. While there were varying degrees of success, there’s no denying that every last one of them enjoyed the moment.
“Being in the stadium and trying to kick a field goal was my favorite part of the day,” said Kristin Casey, who is entering her second season in the club. “I didn’t kick that well, but I tried. I’m not going to be signed by the team, that’s for sure!”
Former linebacker Billy Ray Smith headed up the third station, where fans got to dress up head to toe in full Chargers gear. It was quite the sight as the ladies raced to put on pants, shoulder pads, jerseys, helmets and socks, looking every bit like their heroes on the field.
The Lightning Ladies laughed and joked their way throughout the entire evening, bonding and building camaraderie just like their favorite players do in the locker room.
“I’m not a member,” said Fernanda Cortez, who attended as a guest of her cousin. “But after this, I’m definitely going to be.”
A joint venture of the San Diego Chargers and UC San Diego Health System, the Lightning Ladies is the team’s official fan club open to everyone but designed with the female fan in mind.
“UC San Diego Health System serves the health needs of women and their families,” said Sports Medicine Program Director Robyn Stuhr. “So this partnership with the Chargers and the Lightning Ladies provides an opportunity to get out there, support an incredible team and let women know the resources we have to help keep them healthy.”
With a portion of the proceeds going directly to the American Cancer Society, many members see the club as a win-win opportunity to enrich their fandom while also giving back to a cause they strongly believe in.
“I’m a Chargers geek”, said Julie Elkins. “This event is like my Comic Con. But I’m a breast cancer survivor too, so when I found out about the club I knew I had to join.”
Many more events are planned for the rest of the 2012 season. Click here for more information on becoming a member.