Main Content

Wildcat mom reviews inaugural football camp

We asked Amber (Gilbert ’99) Bunton, ACU manager of creative services, to describe her experience in the July 31 Football 101 Camp for Moms, an inaugural event on campus sponsored by the Wildcat football coaching staff. She is married to former ACU football letterman John Bunton (’94).

Amber (Gilbert ’__) Bunton
Amber (Gilbert ’99) Bunton
I am the daughter of Baby Boomers who lived during the women’s movement in the 1960s. I grew up wearing my Mom’s old “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate” T-shirt. I appreciate Sheryl Sandberg reminding me to “Lean In.” I hashtag #likeagirl.
I have lived in small-town Texas my entire life and have spent my fair share of time around football. I’ve been to junior high school games, junior varsity high school games, varsity games, college games and powder puff games. I’ve even spent a little time at Jerryworld.
When I saw the advertisement for Abilene Christian University’s first-ever Football 101 Camp for Moms, my feminist side emerged. My first thought was, “So, head coach Ken Collums, do you think because I’m a woman I can’t possibly know about football?”
Admittedly, I only have a big-picture knowledge of the sport. I know the field is 100 yards long; that each team has an offense, defense and special teams; and that the goal is to score more points than the other team. I know the offense has four downs to move 10 yards toward the end zone or the other team gets the ball. I know a touchdown is worth six points with an option to score one or two extra points and a field goal is worth three points.
Assistant head coach Mark R____ prepares to engage ______ in a blocking drill.
Linebackers coach Mark Ribaudo prepares to engage Jana Gray of Abilene in a blocking drill.
I love to hear stories about females excelling in football at all levels. Women like Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State and member of the college playoff selection committee), Liz Heaston (first woman to play and score in a college game), Shannon Eastin (the first woman to officiate an NFL game), Amy Trask (former CEO of the Oakland Raiders) and Erin Andrews (journalist at ESPN and Fox Sports) prove that anyone can be a student of football. You. Go. Girls.
So, my second thought about a football camp for women was, “I want to check this out.”
At the sign-in table in the Teague Special Events Center on July 31, we were greeted by Kendrick Holloway (’10), assistant coach for wide receivers. I noticed a basket labeled “Questions” and asked about it. He explained we could write down a question in case we didn’t want to ask in front of the whole group. Feminist Amber laughed. I watched almost all of the other women sign in and ask about the basket and then laugh. I was proud to see this wasn’t that type of crowd. We were there because we figured we had some things to learn and weren’t embarrassed to ask the professionals.
Steven Thrash, assistant coach for tight ends, escorted us from the Teague Center to Room 114 of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building and promptly offered us water or a soft drink. I was impressed that the entire football coaching staff was there. Collums began by telling us we were meeting in the same room in which his team meets. I liked that it is in the Biblical Studies Building. Then he said, “I am more nervous about talking to this group of ladies than talking to a room-full of our guys.” I liked that he was nervous.
The schedule for the evening was to review the role each position plays, the role each official plays and to run some drills on the practice field. Collums creatively tasked each of the assistant coaches to compare their players to a particular breed of dog. We learned a quarterback is like a golden retriever, a wide receiver is like greyhound, the offensive line is like a pack of St. Bernards, a tight end is like a German shepherd, the defensive line is like a pack of Doberman pinschers, a safety is like a Weimaraner, a linebacker is like a pit bull, a cornerback is like a Brittany spaniel, a running back is like a Jack Russell terrier and a fullback is like a bulldog. The presentation was equally hilarious and informative.
Head coach Ken Collums talks with participants in Football 101 Camp for Moms.
Head coach Ken Collums talks with participants in Football 101 Camp for Moms.
Questions were welcomed and answered. We talked 4-3 defense and debated shotgun versus pistol formations. We learned the zones each official covers. After a lesson in play calling, Dr. Laura (Cleek ’88) Phillips, associate professor of management, suggested players get a language credit.
We got a glimpse at the intense strategy and nuances of the game. On the practice field we learned stances, hit bags and laughed. We had two-and-a-half hours of fun.
Beyond learning some technical aspects of the game, we witnessed what makes team sports such as football so important to people. We watched the camaraderie among the coaching staff. We saw the passion each man had for his work. We felt the responsibility the coaches feel to positively influence their team. We caught the competitive spirit that pushes players to do more than they think they can. We were reminded that one player can not win a game on his – or her – own. Every member of the team is essential.
My final thought about football camp for women was “Good job Wildcat football staff. I’d recommend this to any of my girlfriends.”
I hope that Volleyball Camp for Dads is as well received.
Go Wildcats!