Just like that, the first week of Chargers Training Camp is in the books, with the team hosting four open practices in front of Bolts fans.
Fans packed the stands and the fan activation zone at Jack Hammett Sports Complex throughout the week, but Saturday drew an even bigger and energetic crowd. Saturday also marked 'Back Together Saturday' across the NFL, a league-wide event that celebrated the return of football.
The fan activation zone featured music, food and a chance to test your football skills with a 40-yard dash, field goal kicks and a target practice area set up throughout the complex.
Lucky fans like Kira and Carla, who are from Irvine, got the chance to get an autograph from quarterback Justin Herbert. Kira, who has celebrated her birthday at training camp before, got the chance to talk with Herbert and get his autograph. After practice, Carla was able to get a special birthday gift for her daughter when Herbert agreed to sign his practice towel and give it to them.
"Absolutely fantastic," Carla said about Saturday's experience. "There's so many different events to do, there's cornhole and burgers and drinks…the people are in a good mood, they're happy. We met a father and his daughter from Pennsylvania, we met people from Vegas. I mean, all over the place."
Fans traveled to camp from all over California and across the country, with one family making the trip from Texas to see the action. The Chargers international fan presence was felt as well, with one group traveling all the way from Canada to see the Powder Blues in action.
Rita Hernandez, a season ticket holder and member of the Die Hard Bolt Club (Orange County chapter), was in attendance Saturday to catch her second practice of the week. Hernandez took notice of the long line of fans that waited outside the complex as early as 6 a.m. to get a good spot in the stands and talked about why she's excited about this year's camp.
"We're real excited about this season," Hernandez said. "We came on Wednesday and this is triple [the amount of fans] than what was here on Wednesday, so it's exciting to see all the fans. We will be here next weekend, I believe Saturday and Sunday. I played hooky from work to be here on Wednesday."
Not only did the fans take notice to the added energy at camp this year and the building excitement, the Chargers coaches and players took notice as well.
Wide receiver Mike Williams showed his appreciation for fans via Twitter:
Williams took to the podium on Saturday to talk about the noticeable excitement in the stands this year throughout the entire week.
"Over the last past years, it'll probably be like the weekends will be a lot more packed than the weekdays," Williams said. "But, the weekdays this year have been kind of packed, also. We've just have to keep bringing energy for the fans."
One of the fan favorites at camp has been fellow wide receiver Keenan Allen who's chatted and hyped-up fans during practice throughout the week. Allen expressed his appreciation for the fans during his media availability Thursday.
"It's great. The fans have been loud," Allen said. "They're doing a hell of a job keeping the energy up."
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley noticed the buzz at practice as well, noting the importance of having fans in attendance on opening day of training camp.
"There's nothing better in pro sports than training camp around your fans. This is where you make a lot of memories happen," Staley said. "I know how important it is for our organization and our players. We hope to give them a great three or four weeks of camp."
Check out some shots of the Bolt Fam packing the Jack Hammett Sports Complex on Back Together Saturday!
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