By Teresa Varley
Time and again it's been written that the Steelers have the largest female fan base, but you never fully comprehend just how dedicated and devoted the ladies are until you see them gathered together at one of the many events the team holds for them.
So when the Steelers hosted the Annual Dean's Dairy Football 202 for Women at their practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex it was no surprise that everyone came decked out in black and gold, with jerseys from Lambert and Bradshaw to Woodley and Roethlisberger and everyone in between represented.
Their dedication, devotion and their vast knowledge of the game and Steelers team impressed everyone on hand, including running back Mewelde Moore who conducted running back drills in the indoor practice facility as part of the event. "It's amazing," said Moore. "You have more female fans that understand the game of football here than any place in the world. You really appreciate the passion and love and understanding of football that they carry and they support you. Everybody wants to understand football more and get hands on."
The evening started with dinner in the team cafeteria, where the ladies inquired who eats the most, how much food is served and checked on all of the details. It was then off to the locker room and weight room for a tour, with the ladies getting an inside look into the players just by seeing what they keep in their lockers.
"I like learning more about the back stage part of everything," said Kelly Fortuna of New Kensington, Pa. "Seeing the preparation for the games, what they go through on a day to day basis besides just playing football. It's neat. It's great to see all of this stuff. It's very interesting. You see the stuff in their lockers and learn all of that."
It was then on to the team meeting room, with a quick stop to check out the six Super Bowl trophies en route. Wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner shared what his week is like, while his wife Jennifer also provided insight into what football season is like for her.
And then – it was time to get physical. The ladies took part in drills taught by Moore, punter Daniel Sepulveda and cornerback Deshea Townsend.
"It's no secret that we have the most female fans of any franchise, probably in any sport," said Sepulveda. "I think it's awesome. They have a different kind of enthusiasm than the guy fans. They bring a lot of fun to it. And they are pretty serious about it. Some of them know what's going on more than I do sometimes it seems like. It's impressive."
The evening ended with a raffle to win game tickets and autographed footballs, and for some it could have gone on all night.
"I kind of feel like I am a child going to Disney World for the first time," said Sherise Mills, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. "I am taking everything in. I love it."
For a full photo gallery by Teresa Varley, click on Dean's 202 for Women and go to Events. Photos can be purchased by visiting the Steelers section of Printroom.com.