What would cause 700 or so women — from toddlers to grandmothers — to spendSaturday talking zone blocking and cover-three defense?
Steve Spurrier’s annual Ladies Football Clinic, of course.
Spurrier and the entire coaching staff, along with their families, opened up their livelihood to these eager fans for a full day of activities.
The day began at The Zone facility, where participants were allowed to tour the weight room, player’s lounge and locker room before moving to the playing surface at Williams-Brice Stadium despite intermittent rain that fell most of the morning.
USC defensive line coach Brad Lawing has been taking part of these clinics since Sparky Woods did the first one in 1989.
“These women enjoy being able to do something their husbands can’t,” Lawing said. “Don’t make any mistake about it, they are very knowledgeable. Every year I do this, I’m blown away by the questions they ask.”
Terry Witherspoon, a grandmother from Branchville, sported a shirt with a slogan that could sum up the mood of the assembled crowd. Her T-shirt style top had the word “Real Women Love Football” printed across the front.
“I love football and I love coach Spurrier,” Witherspoon said. “I can’t think of any other place I would rather be today than right here. I came to the spring game last week and this gives a little something extra to hold us over until August gets here and things begin for real.”
The women were able to hear from each position coach and from Jerri Spurrier, Steve’s wife. Jerri Spurrier helped introduce all the coach’s wives and their children that ranged from grown-ups to as young as five weeks old.
But the highlight of the morning session was when 21 current and three former players were introduced. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Devin Taylor were among those in attendance.
While the microphone was passed around the room for the players to field questions, the one that drew the biggest hoots and hollers was one asked of Jeffery, the All-American.
With Tori Gurley forgoing his eligibility and entering the NFL Draft this year, someone in the crowd asked if Jeffery was going to make the early leap after the coming season. After pausing and giving the question some thought, Jeffery responded that he loved college and was looking forward to getting his education.
While that might not be the case when it comes time for him to make his final decision, his answer set off a loud round of applause.
“We sure would like to have him back but we all understand he has to do what is best for him,” Anna Edwards of Summerville said.
Tammy LaGoon, who was making her third appearance at the Ladies Clinic, made the drive from Lawrenceville, Ga. Her brother graduated from USC in 1984 and she has been a die-hard fan ever since even though she works in an office full of Georgia fans.
“I’m surrounded by Georgia fans all year long,” LaGoon said. “This is an opportunity to form a bond and mingle with these women. We are all here because we enjoy the game of football and these women love Carolina as much as I do. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”