Many youth football moms are used to watching their kids from the sidelines, but on Thursday night, they got a taste of the action, as the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation hosted its second annual Moms Football Safety Clinic.
The three-hour event, which took place at the Dana-Farber Field House at Gillette Stadium, included a mix of information sessions and hands-on activities for the 300 moms in attendance.
Things got underway with presentations from Patriots coaching staff and other experts, including Strength and Conditioning Coach Harold Nash and Head Athletic Trainer Jim Whalen. The moms learned about a number of topics, such as the importance of strength training, how to properly fit a helmet, and how to prevent and identify concussions. They also got information on cardiac arrest and emergency preparedness for their children's sports teams.
"Those are specialties that I don't have access to," said mom-of-four Gina Giramma. "I know about nutrition and that kind of stuff, but the other information was important."
Her friend Lisa Listro agreed. "I had never seen how to fit a helmet or shoulder pads properly. I think the league we're in kind of excludes the moms, so I didn't know anything about the equipment."
In addition to the information sessions, Gina, Lisa and the other mothers in attendance got to hear from their peers during a panel discussion led by Patriots Today reporter Jackie Brittain. Jackie was joined by experienced football moms, including Rhonda Tippett, wife of the evening's MC Andre Tippett, and Nate Solder's mother, Peri. The women shared their thoughts on the risks and rewards of football and youth athletics in general. They touched on other topics such as aggressive coaches, injuries and the positive life skills football can teach children and young adults.
Finally, the clinic concluded with a fun session of hands-on football drills with USA Football Master Trainer Scott Taylor and some very special guests; several Patriots players and coaches including Nate Solder, Chandler Jones and Matthew Slater came out to help the moms learn basic tackling skills
"My daughter complains all the time, 'You don't play football!'" Gina joked. "I can tell her now I've played."
The moms were noticeably excited about getting to hang out with the players, but many were happy to leave with more than just star-studded selfies.
Tami Donecker, who came to last year's inaugural Moms Football Safety Clinic, brought along a few friends this year because of the valuable information gained at the event.
"I've found it very informative for moms that are on the fence," she explained, adding that she believes youth football coaches and boards should spread the word about such events to moms.
"There are parents that are really afraid," she said, turning to friend Grace Ferreira who is currently considering whether her seven-year-old son should play football.
"The less you know, the more afraid you are," Grace explained. "So when you're educated, it's not as scary. And it's true, that knowledge makes a big difference."
Current and former Patriots players and coaches helped teach proper blocking and tackling techniques to 300 moms at the Field House at Gillette Stadium.