July 25, 2013
CHOUDRANT, La. - Football and fashion collided at Squire Creek Country Club Thursday, scoring a big win for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central Louisiana in the process.
Louisiana Tech's football program sponsored its fourth annual Pigskins and Pearls event, with Jennifer Holtz taking the original idea organized by Kate Dykes, wife of former Louisiana Tech football coach Sonny Dykes, and running with it as she and her husband, new Tech football coach Skip Holtz, talked a little football with Tech's female football fans.
"I'm proud to represent Louisiana Tech and become a second mother to these wonderful young men," Jennifer Holtz said as she pointed out a group of Tech football players helping out at the event. "I'd like to acknowledge Kate Dykes for starting this program and the great work it does for The Boys and Girls Clubs.
"It's such a wonderful time to be a Bulldog, and it starts at the helm," Holtz added as she asked Tech First Lady Kathy Guice, wife of new President Les Guice, to stand and be recognized by the crowd.
Tech assistant coaches Tim Rattay, Kim Dameron, Ronnie Bradford and Kurt Hester also spoke to those in attendance, as did players D.J. Banks, Vince Cano Kenneth Dixon, IK Enemkpali, Kevin Kisseberth, Connor Nichols and Matthew Shepperd.
"It was great to get out and mingle with the fans and let them see what we look like without our helmets on," Banks said. "We only have one week left before we hit training camp and get down to business, so this was kind of like that last bit of fun you have before you get ready to get into the grind of things."
Banks' head coach felt the same way.
"It's definitely one of those fun days where everyone is kicked back having a great time," Skip Holtz said. "We're about to start camp, so this kind of release comes at a great time, and even better, it benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs. We've done these `Football 101' kind of clinics at other places I've coached, but we worked it down into this two-hour, luncheon format and I think it worked out great for everyone. I know I had a great time."
Former Tech standout quarterback Tim Rattay was the first coach to speak as he explained Tech's offensive philosophy.
"I first what to say how excited I am to get back to Tech," Rattay said. "Some people questioned whether that was a good move, because I had no coaching experience. But I assure you, I coached my wife's Alpha Chi flag football team when we were at Tech, and they were good."
He then used Cano, a lineman, and Banks, a receiver for the Bulldogs and former high school quarterback, to explain football snaps.
"There's a lot great things about playing quarterback -- this is not one of them," Rattay said to the crowd's amusement as he had Banks get down in position under center to take a snap from Cano. "I know D.J. doesn't like having to put his hands down there, and I'm pretty sure Vince doesn't like it either. That's why one of the greatest inventions in football is the shotgun formation. It gets you away from all that -- gets the quarterback out from under center. We don't even huddle up like we used to -- we just rush to snap out of the shotgun by signaling in plays.
"Why so fast? Because I think we have a great offense and that style of play maximizes the number of offensive plays and wears down defenses. You're going to continue seeing us use that style of play and throwing the football."
Dameron talked about Tech's defense and said that while technique is important, attitude and "want to" are just as important on that side of the ball.
"If anyone asks you what defense we play, it's a 4-3 nickel or 4-2-5 where the Sam (strong side) linebacker drops back a lot in coverage. But you're going to see us blitz, too."
Hester talked strength and conditioning while Bradford told the crowd about special teams play while also hitting on the primary reason for the event."
"I was raised by a single mother," Bradford said. "The Rotary Club sent me to a football camp, and that's how I got noticed. The work you're doing for young people and the community helping the Boys and Girls Club with this event is great."
Bradford explained the important of special teams with statistics.
"On the average, one out of every five plays is a special teams play," Bradford said. "That's 20 percent of play in a game, and it accounts for 87 percent of yardage in a game. Not many people realize that but I think it shows the importance of special teams.
"Special teams play is crucial in football. I spent 10 years in the NFL, and the first five of that came on special teams. That's how I fed my family."
Boys and Girls Club officials said they "were more than pleased" with the event.
"I was thrilled to death -- it was fabulous," said Jane Wilson, director of resource development and marketing for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Louisiana. "I'm so excited about Coach and Mrs. Holtz because you can tell they are community-oriented people who very much want to be involved. They made the little girls and all of us with the Boys and Girls Club feel so honored."
Bulldog fans attending also seemed excited.
"I found the Pigskins and Pearls to be great fun," Carrie Flournoy said. "What a way to spend an afternoon lunch. I have football running through my veins, so I get pumped up every year around this time. After listening to the Tech coaches today and watching the football clips made me even more excited about LA Tech football games. We have a great coaching staff led by a superior head coach. Everyone in the room wanted to put on a Tech cheerleader outfit and run on the field after today's comments from the coaches.
"Mrs. Jennifer Holtz was a wonderful host, full of enthusiasm and excitement. It will be an amazing football season in a new conference with a new head coach, a new Athletics Director and new President. I am looking forward to the next few months with great passion -- as Coach Bradford referred to it in his speech. Go 'Dogs!"
Jennifer Holtz said she may tweak the program format somewhat next year while still keeping it much the same.
"I'd like to do something like involve the coach's wives more," she said. "And maybe talk about tailgate recipes and maybe some of the crazy traditions us football wives have. Kate developed a beautiful mold for this kind of two-hour format. We'll just tweak it a little and keep trying to build it to be bigger and better, because the cause is worth it."
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