The sounds, they were familiar. Ones you become accustomed to during a training camp practice at Saint Vincent College.
Coaches bellowing out instructions telling players to pick up the pace, go left, go right, run it out, and make that catch.
This was a little different, though.
It wasn’t Steelers players who took the field on Sunday morning at Saint Vincent College, instead it was the participants taking part in the annual Steelers Women’s Training Camp, presented by UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.
Let’s just say it was fun for the ladies to learn from the pros.
“This is my first Steelers training camp in general and my first women’s camp,” said Ashley Morrison from Brooklyn, New York. “I am super excited. I have been a Steelers fan since I was probably two years old. This is my first time here. This was a birthday gift. Thankfully I got this and I am here now. I drove six hours by myself and I am here.
“The energy here of Steelers fans is incredible. It’s super empowering just to have women together, of all different races, coming together for one specific reason, one passion, Steelers football. It’s great.”
Over 300 female fans were on hand to go through some of the same drills the players do, conducted by Steelers legends Donnie Shell, Merril Hoge, Charlie Batch, Shaun Suisham and Greg Warren, as well as watch practice later in the day.
“This is a group that is so eager to learn and participate. They are always like put us through it all,” said Charlie Batch. “They are there to participate and want to see what we do. That is always the fun part. From a quarterback position they want to know from the minute you step into the huddle what is being said and how you conduct yourself at the line of scrimmage.
“It doesn’t surprise me how they are. That is what I have become accustomed to. It’s special. If you would have asked me about the ladies being this enthusiastic when I first joined the team 17 years ago, I would have been shocked. Now I know this is what they are like.”
This is the first time Shell has been a part of the Women’s Training Camp, and it was eye-opening for him to see how passionate the team’s female fan base is.
“I didn’t realize how enthusiastic the ladies were,” said Shell. “It’s great to have a conversation with someone who loves football so much. Steelers Nation is Steelers Nation. It’s great to get out here and teach them some skills and see how much they retain and how much they know, and the questions you get from teaching them the skills.
“It’s amazing when I come back how passionate everyone is about the team and Steelers football. I last played in 1987 and I am not recognized in South Carolina. When I come back to Pittsburgh I get recognized again. They come up to me and say they remember me playing and they appreciate what I did. It’s a great feeling. It shows the great passion Steelers fans have. I appreciate them.”
Shell said he never minded training camp as a player as it was always a new beginning, preparing for the season.
“This is a time to reminisce,” said Shell. “There are all the new buildings. Things changed. It’s the same though to come back to Saint Vincent College and experience training camp. And I don’t have to practice. It’s less intense this time.
“When we came to training camp it was about working and perfecting your skills every day. You could see your progress every day and evaluate it. We took it as a challenge. That is when you get better, in training camp. That is where you prepared for the season.”