Women helping women

High heels and football never fit together as well as they did at the Women Helping Women: Football 101 luncheon.

Spear-headed by Dianna Coker, wife of Hurricanes’ Head Coach Larry Coker, a group of wives joined together along with the marketing office’s Felicia Martin and Amy Ferguson to teach women about the game their husbands love and raise money for women’s athletics at the University of Miami.

“The program was started several years ago when we heard about other coaches’ wives around the country educating women about football,” Coker said.

For the past two years, Jan Wannstedt, the wife of the Miami Dolphins head coach, led the seminar, but this year Coker took over along with help from Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner and several other representatives from the team.

“Understanding the game is a complete necessity when you are married to a football fanatic,” Carol Williamson, a member of the Golden ‘Canes, said.

The women were enthusiastic about not only learning the game of football, but donating to women’s athletics. The bubbling women in attendance were business owners in the community, friends of the Coker’s, wives of coaches and trainers, trustees and women’s athletic coaches at Miami, as well as the president of the university, Donna Shalala.

“We come together under the common interest of football, giving us another venue for raising money to give to scholarship funds and make purchases such as the scoreboard at the soccer field all in the name of women’s sports,” committee member Donna Huck said.

The program started out by recognizing each of the women’s sports that were represented by coaches and athletes as well as Lauryn Williams, recent winner of a silver medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Williams briefly spoke of her appreciation for Women Helping Women’s support as a female athlete and the impact women make at the University.

Over box lunches, Werner entertained the ladies by giving a brief, broken-down explanation of the game’s offense.

“When you hear your husbands say that they should’ve run another play while watching a football game, tell him you can’t throw against a ‘gap stack defense’. He’ll have no idea what that means because it doesn’t exist, but he’ll be impressed,” Werner said.

Director of Football Operations Jeff Merk gave an explanation of how new athletes are recruited to play football and then set up a player forum consisting of Joel Rodriguez, Andrew Bain, and Chris Myers. The players answered questions from the women ranging from how much weight they gained to whether they like to go out to South Beach after games.

Concluding the information session, Coker explained the Atlantic Coast Conference in terms of each school, its location, alumni base, colors, mascot, head coach and rank.

An auction and raffle ended the afternoon, including such items as shopping gift certificates, autographed footballs, a round of golf with Shalala, lunch with Coker and the chance to throw the first pitch at an ACC baseball game.

In total the event raised over $5,000 for women’s athletics at UM.

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at s.arnold@umiami.edu.