Playbook pink for ladies’ football camp at Ole Miss 7/23/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Playbook pink for ladies’ football camp at Ole Miss

By Rita Howell

If Coach Freeze had a playbook for last Saturday’s Ladies Football Forum at Ole Miss, it was probably pink.

In reality, Freeze’s main role was to pose patiently while he had his picture made with 370 different women.

He was gracious and seemed sincere when he greeted me near the end of the line in the massive indoor practice facility (IPF).

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The forum, in its 13th year, always attracts a large group of female fans, with varying degrees of knowledge of the game, but a consistent enthusiasm for the Ole Miss football experience.
The day was planned to satisfy those serious fans who want to know about the depth chart and the running game.

Coaches talked to us like they really wanted us to understand things. Assistant Coach Derrick Nix showed us how a running back should hold the football. It’s called the eagle claw, with the point of the ball coming between the index and middle fingers as the ball is clasped close to the runner’s body.

He called on his wife, Allison, to demonstrate. That’s what made this event unique: the coaches’ wives were all there, too.

For those of us who are less concerned with the technical aspects of the x’s and o’s, the wives provided lots of interesting information.

Did you know that the Ole Miss football team goes through 700 pairs of shoes in a season? We heard that from the equipment manager’s wife.

The cost of a complete uniform, head to toe, is $1,000.

In the equipment room we saw shiny navy helmets lined up in rows on top of cabinets.
“A company in Batesville paints the helmets,” she said.

“Tucker Manufacturing,” I said, glad to point that out for the group.
To keep those helmets shining, she said, a crew of student workers spends Thursday nights waxing and polishing them.

“They order pizza and make it a party,” she said.

She also showed us the team’s new uniforms. The jerseys are form-fitting, with a reinforced neckline. The new shirt is referred to as “the speed machine.” I suppose there is less fabric to flap around and slow a runner down.

Four different color combinations of jerseys and pants were displayed on manikins in the equipment room.

At last year’s forum, real live players had modeled the uniforms for us.
Talk about getting women excited for football season.

Alas, NCAA rules had cancelled plans to have the players back to mingle with the ladies this year.

But nobody told a certain pair of brothers who happen to play for the Rebels and just happened to be in the hallway during one of our breaks.

They politely smiled and posed and signed autographs for as many women as time allowed. They didn’t seem to be annoyed at all. As word quickly spread, more and more women clogged the hallway. A trainer tried in vain to coax the guys along to their destination. Those women held the line until they’d all scored a photo on their cellphones.

When the forum resumed we were politely asked not to post pictures to Facebook or Tweet about our encounter with the guys.


Those pictures went out into cyberspace faster than Jeff Scott runs the 40. (4.38 seconds, in case you’re interested).

We heard about last year’s successes, the Compass Bowl, the phenomenal recruiting class, spring training, and quarterback Bo Wallace’s shoulder. (He’s 95 percent now, in case you didn’t know.)

I took a picture of the Egg Bowl trophy, displayed in all its glory on the indoor practice field.
The stadium and practice facility are undergoing renovations. We didn’t get to see the locker room, but we did run through the tunnel onto the field behind Coach Freeze.

Later we heard from his wife, Jill, who told us she’s just like everybody else. She can’t set up her tailgating tent before 9 p.m. on the Friday night before gameday, as the campus-wide rule demands.

She described the family-friendly atmosphere that encompasses her husband’s domain. It is common for coaches’ wives and children to be in the IDF daily.

On Sunday nights there’s a voluntary Bible study for coaches’ families. All ages are included. Then the coaches and their families eat dinner with the players.

Cultivating relationships among the coaches, players and their families is intentional.
Freeze uses the acronym “FAMILY” to stand for “Faith, Attitude, Mental Toughness, Integrity, Love and You.” That message is printed on the players’ notebooks. And it’s on the navy bands that encircle the wrists of Jill and Hugh Freeze.