NEW PALESTINE — Dan Walker grabbed Kyle Ralph by his shirt, near Ralph’s chest, with both hands, then slowly pushed the New Palestine High School head football coach to the right.
Walker, an assistant football coach for the Dragons, was demonstrating just what a holding penalty looks like in front of a captivated group inside the school’s auxiliary gym Saturday morning.
Learning about football penalties, the red zone, the pocket, and the line of scrimmage — terms football newcomers might not know much about — was the goal of Football 101, a class targeting New Palestine-area women wanting to learn more about the sport.
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From learning basic football terminology, such as what the neutral zone is to understanding who all the football officials are on the field, more than 20 area women signed up to participate in the morning class.
Many come to the games to support the Dragons but don’t necessarily understand the intricacies of football. Knowing what to watch for will help them enjoy their time in the stands even more, the coaches hoped.
Most of the attendees were moms who have cheered on their sons, now high school players, from the sidelines for years.
“At this level, it’s not just about watching your son anymore,” Ralph said. “These ladies want to see our program be successful and be educated on what is going on on that field at all times.”
The event covered some of the football basics and also some less-familiar game jargon. The women heard about the dimensions of the field, the down markers and a few of the more common penalties.
Walker started things out making sure everyone had an understanding of the rules, the field layout, the down system, and the basics of offense and defense.
They then took the group on what Walker called the “Dragon football tour,” showing off the weight room, locker room and training facilities before heading outside to the practice field for a light-hearted obstacle course run.
Kristin Ely, football mom to Dragons players Luke and Eric Ely, is also the daughter of former Knightstown coach Don Willard, who led the team for 40 years. She said there is plenty she didn’t know about the game despite being around it so much.
“I just wanted to learn a little bit more so it would make sense as I watch the game,” she said.
Ralph helped with a football educational class when he coached in Ohio and was behind the idea when Walker first offered the class a couple of years ago.
Walker thought it was time to have the class again, and Ralph agreed.
Hosting an educational football class will only make Friday night football games that much more fun for everyone, Ralph said.
“The more you know about the sport, or any sport really, the better the game flows for you, and they’ll enjoy watching it and being a part of it,” Ralph said.