|Women’s Football Academy sees record numbers|
An annual summer event in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan football team played host to some 500 participants for the Women’s Football Academy on Saturday, smashing the record set last year when 300 ladies took part in the activities.
Marking the 14th year that Michigan has held the academy to teach women the game of football while helping to fight cancer, Player-Family Coordinator / Operations Assistant Kelly Vaughn has played a pivotal role in the organization and running of the event for the last five years. She noted that the growth in popularity of the Women’s Academy in recent years has been overwhelming and has even prompted some changes in structure.
“Two years ago we had all kinds of marketing efforts and did everything we could to get people to come and only had 170 people,” said Vaughn. “This year, we did zero marketing and sold out a month and half early. Plus we had a waiting list of about 60 people on top of that.
“We actually changed the format up this year a little bit. We did a little more on the educational side of football in terms of film study, we did a little equipment seminar and we’re doing a team travel presentation in the Champions Center while the other team scrimmages on the field … we didn’t want to dilute the experience for anybody with so many participants, so we’re rotating people and trying a split between both physical football and the educational side of football.”
Raising an approximate $144,000 for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the money is earmarked for a good cause.
“I know that we actually fund the budget for the entire year for the patient and family support services program, which is fantastic,” said Vaughn.
“What’s a little unique about this outing is it’s not for research,” added linebackers coach Mark Smith. “This money is going to the Cancer Center, but it’s going to be used to help families that are dealing with cancer issues. Maybe it’s counseling. Maybe it’s a hotel room if they’re from out of town. It’s support money that families need when they are going through cancer issues. It’s very critical.”
While this is only the second year that Smith has participated in the event at Michigan, he is very familiar with the cause, noting that head coach Brady Hoke has helped spread similar experiences across the country.
“I’ve been with Coach Hoke ever since he’s been a head coach,” explained Smith. “When he came to Ball State nine years ago, he brought this concept with him from Michigan. There we used the Susan G. Komen Foundation to donate the money to. So we’ve done it every year, but not so much on this scale. Not with this many ladies and this much participation. We did it for six years at Ball State and two years at San Diego, but again, this is on a much bigger level.”
Women participating in the event on Saturday had the opportunity to work not only with the coaches, but also the chance to learn the finer points of the game from the Michigan players themselves. According to Smith, it’s a point of great pride for the Michigan program to play such a positive role in matters unrelated to athletics.
“One thing we tell our players all the time is that they’re an important part of this community, so they need to get out and help the community,” he said. “Any time we can put them out in the public, we’re real proud of them. They’re great kids and they understand that it’s important for them to be involved in the community, so it’s been a really exciting and good thing.”
Working for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Doreen McGuire served as Events Coordinator for Women’s Football Academy, organizing all of the non-football components of the day’s activities. She noted that she is overwhelmed by the level of support received from the football program under Coach Hoke.
“All I keep saying is it’s amazing,” McGuire exclaimed. “It truly is. I love working with everybody. This group of coaches and their staff are just wonderful. They really raise the bar with this event and the ladies have a ball with it. And the players – I’m appreciative for everything they’re doing.”
If you would like to give to the cause, please click here for the event donation form.