Many football players go on the college camp circuit during the month of June to improve their skills and possibly get a look from college coaches that may lead to the opportunity to play the next level.
Women actually got to go camping at Ohio State last month, too.
UNION LOCAL and Ohio State graduates Robin Bowdish (left), Kathy Thompson (second from left) and their mother, Libby DeVine (right) pose with Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer at the Ohio State Women’s Football Clinic held last month in Columbus.
Yes, women and two Ohio Valley natives took part with the hopes of improving their football knowledge, but also to show their support for the Buckeyes and the fight against breast cancer to benefit the Urban and Shelly Meyer Fund for Cancer Research.
Union Local and Ohio State graduates Kathy Thompson and Robin Bowdish, who are sisters, took part in the third annual Ohio State Football Women's Clinic last month at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus.
"It was awesome," Bowdish said. "Getting to interact with the coaches and players was a blast because they were funny, but also informative."
Thompson attended the 2013 camp by herself.
"I went alone because I wasn't sure what to expect and wanted to check it out before encouraging someone else to go," Thompson said.
At the encouragement of her son, Mark, an OSU student, Thompson decided to give the camp a shot.
"My son forwarded me an email about the camp, and I was all in immediately," Thompson recalled. "I have always wanted to learn more about the strategy of successful football and I've always wanted to understand (the game) better."
Bowdish, who graduated from OSU in 1978 with a B.A. in English, took the advice of her sister and decided to give it a shot.
"This was clinic was so much fun," Bowdish said. "You get out of it what you put into it. Everyone's there to support a great cause and have a fun day."
The campers - like the actual OSU football players - are encouraged to "Bring the Juice" during the camp, which is ran by members of the Buckeyes' football staff.
However, obviously not all of the attendees are as well conditioned as the others - let alone college football players.
"The camp is as strenuous as you want it to be," Thompson said. "You can 'bring the juice' and go all out for all of the drills or you can stand on the sidelines and just enjoy being part of it."
Thompson admitted she may have "overdone it" a bit during her first time and remembered that this time around.
"I was very sore after (the camp)," Thompson said. "I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but this year, I knew my limitations. I still pushed myself to do my best."
Bowdish, meanwhile, took the advice of her sister as to the approach for the camp.
"We did not have to exceed our limitations," Bowdish said. "The drills were so much fun because of the coaches who worked with us. It was just awesome to be in the facility and to practice on the fields outside."
Running backs coach Stan Drayton served as the master of ceremonies for the event and addressed all of the campers prior to the starting of the drills.
Other members of the staff, including Luke Fickell, Tom Herman, Chris Ash, Ed Warinner, Kerry Coombs, Tim Hinton and Mickey Marotti also played a role in the camp.
Urban Meyer went over the spread offense in terms of the zone read that the Buckeyes utilize so well.
Some of the current Buckeyes' players demonstrated proper tackling technique and there was also a question and answer on a myriad of topics with the players.
In the afternoon portion of the camp, it shifted to the practice fields outside of the Woody Hayes Center where the campers went through stations.
"We did cone drills, learned the proper way to throw a pass at a target, ran hitch, slant and go routes, and I am proud to say that I caught all of my passes," Thompson said. "We also scored touchdowns and performed our best end-zone dances."
After breaking up into teams for relay races, while wearing shoulder pads, helmets and carrying the football, the camp ended with Marotti - a West Liberty State College graduate - putting the campers through the 'Smokehouse Drill.'
"The coaches and players worked with us as we participated in the drills and their encouragement was an integral part of creating camaraderie we developed," Bowdish said.
While learning the spread offense, techniques and drills were great and highly beneficial to their overall knowledge of the sport, both Thompson and Bowdish, who played high school sports and had sons who played football in high school, took something greater away from their experience.
"There is definitely something different about being part of a football team," Thompson said. "I am totally amazed by the football culture. It's truly a unique brotherhood, or in this case sisterhood."
They learned just what the sport means to the players.
"Kathy and I always noticed the bonding of the players when our sons played, but when we went to this clinic, we had the opportunity to experience it first hand," Bowdish said. "We have a better understanding of what playing football means to these boys."
Both plan on furthering their knowledge even further next year and hope to see more women from the Ohio Valley take part.
"Without a doubt, we'll be going for years to come," Bowdish said. "It's a great way to support a great cause."
Thompson stressed that you don't have to be a former athlete to enjoy the camp.
"There are women of all ages, shapes and athletic abilities," Thompson said. "It's great to be a part of Buckeye Nation for a day and support the Urban and Shelly Meyer Fund for Cancer Research."
With their improved knowledge, Thompson and Bowdish are now just waiting for the Buckeyes' season opener on Aug. 30 against Navy in Baltimore.