UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Friday February 12 2016
Leave this field empty.

Training Camp: BnGG Style

PSR Logo
According to Scarborough Sports Marketing and ESPN sports polls, Pittsburgh has the largest female fan base in the NFL, more than doubling the number of female pro football fans on average. Women comprise 55 percent of the team’s fan base.

And for the past 12 years, the Steelers have been reaching out to women in the unique way that only the Steelers organization can do, opening training camp doors to over 300 women from all over North America to participate in Women’s Football Camp.

John Simpson, Steelers Marketing and Events Manager, believes that Women’s Football Camp is all about passion.

“This year, camp sold out in a record 30 hours. We have embraced our female fans for a long time, and in response they make this event a success,” said Simpson, who added that the “family atmosphere” the Rooney’s have created within the team extends to the fans.Photo by Vikki Tuk

The family affair was certainly front and center at this year’s camp. “Brett’s Bearded Beauties” took camp by storm, led by matriarch Bonnie Liska, her two daughters and close family friends. This is their eighth year at camp, and this year they were rewarded for their creativity by Brett Keisel himself. Nearing the end of practice, he crossed the practice field to take a moment to thank and speak with the group.

“I was like, ‘Mom, Brett’s crossing the field. Mom, he’s coming this way,’ and before I knew it it he was right in front of us,” said Dawn Elder Conley. “Brett was so awesome. He asked us about our day and thanked us for our effort. Camp gives us this opportunity. It’s something we cherish and as a family will continue to do.”

Photos of the group with their namesake landed in newspapers as far away as California.

The camp consists of four rotations, each run by current or former Steelers and assisted by members of the Pittsburgh Passion. The women are introduced to basic skills on Offensive Line, Defense, Receiving and Special Teams.

Former Steelers center Jeff Hartings who put the women through the O-line paces, ex-linebacker

Jason Gildon was relentPhoto by Vikki Tukless teaching D, former quarterback Kordell Stewert flashed his famous smile while showing gals running routes and hurling perfect spirals in their direction. But perhaps the most popular station was the special teams portion, led by long snapper Greg Warren and kicker Shaun Suisham.

“Not too many people know how difficult it is to pull off a good long snap. It’s a specialty,” explained Warren, now participating in his sixth women’s event. “Showing women how to do it is especially gratifying. They are determined to get it right. Plus, the women every year are just fun.”

After lunch, the women were treated to the 2011 NFL Films video recap, highlighted by the ladies’ deafening cheers each time a new player appeared on the screen.

After the film, the ladies were given sideline access to watch practice—with the special bonus of Dan Rooney being in attendance—and the day ended with dinner and an autograph signing by Emmanuel Sanders and Isaac Redman.

Recapping this experience on one page of a newspaper is difficult for a life-long female fan such as myself. It is simply something one has to experience. The entire Steelers organization welcomed the ladies with open arms: from the alumni running the drills, to the players on the field, to the training staff tending with injuries, to the front office folks who seemed to know most participants by name.

Photo by Vikki TukBy the day’s end, it became apparent why and how the Steelers are indeed a family. It’s little wonder as to why Steelers have the largest female following in the NFL. To them, everyone matters. That’s the foundation of Steelers Nation.

Share
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi made an immediate impact on the recruiting trail upon taking over at Pitt a year ago.
Feature OneKeystone RecruitingPitt FootballPress Room
On Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, Geibel Catholic High School's Emily Zimcosky had her wildest dream come true.
Feature TwoHigh School
Several offseason departures and a few promising prospects combine to create a series of interesting questions as the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near.
Feature ThreeNorth Shore Notes
The Penn State Nittany Lions have seen more turnover in the past four years than they saw in the 45 years prior.
Feature FourKeystone RecruitingPenn StatePress Room
PSR VIDEO
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Steelers TV Channel
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3PSR Video PiratesPirates TV Channel
Nearly 30 local prospects, throughout the WPIAL and the Pittsburgh City League, will head to FBS and FCS colleges next year to continue their football careers.
Custom 1High SchoolKeystone RecruitingPenn StatePitt FootballRobert Morris
Ohio State checks in with the top-rated class in the nation, with many of the usual suspects also boasting strong classes. Ole Miss, Penn State and North Carolina also have great hauls.
Custom 2National
The local class of 2017 boasts some of the top players in the state, and Pittsburgh Central Catholic leads with way with several exciting prospects. North Allegheny, Steel Valley and Clairton once again have top-tier talent.
Custom 3High School
Four of the nation's top 15 players hail from the state of Florida, while three come from Alabama and two from Texas. New Jersey's Rashan Gary, however, claims the top spot.
Custom 4High SchoolNational