Women's Clinic Takes Canes Fans Behind the Scenes
By Christy Cabrera Chirinos
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – She’s watched her son pursue his dream of becoming a coach, even when that meant taking a risk and giving up a promising broadcasting career to pursue that dream.
As Manny Diaz landed his first job as a graduate assistant and began rising through the ranks to become the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Patty Knap was there, cheering him on every stop of the way.
She celebrated wins and big plays. She was full of pride as Diaz mentored hundreds of his players, both on and off the field. She’s been a part of his journey from the start.
Never, though, has Knap had the opportunity to do what she’s about to do Saturday when she’ll be at the Carol Soffer Practice Facility as Diaz, his wife Stephanie and his coaching staff take a select group of fans behind the scenes of the Hurricanes football program as part of the second annual Manny Diaz Women’s Football Clinic.
Watching her son teach in this different setting was something she didn’t want to miss.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing him communicate with the women, educate them and see women grow their enjoyment and knowledge of the game of football,” said Knap, who will be traveling from her home in Tallahassee to attend the event. “I hope the fans there see the hard work and dedication the coaches, the players, the staff all put in to putting on a football game.
“It’s a 24/7 job and they’re all very dedicated, wonderful people. I think we lose sight of what it takes to have a great team and what it really means to play football.”
The fans at Saturday’s event will, Diaz hopes, get a taste of what it’s like to be a Hurricane.
Attendees will have the opportunity to get a look at where Miami’s players train and practice. They’ll have the chance to meet with Diaz and members of his staff and ask questions. They’ll see, firsthand, what the Hurricanes go through both in team meetings and in workouts with David Feeley, Miami’s Director of Strength and Conditioning.
The goal, Diaz said, is for fans to better understand the ins and outs of the program.
He already expects that most of the women that will be there will be savvy football fans who know about the game itself and won’t need the basics explained to them.
“We have really diehard fans at the University of Miami and a lot of our true diehard fans are women and women get enough mansplaining,” Diaz said. “We thought it’d be really cool to have them come here, get their questions answered, go through some of the drills and see what our guys do. Football is fascinating. There’s so much going on and when you watch it on TV or even at the stadium, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“We want to have a setting where we kick all the men out, have fun, get some Q&A done and have them interact with our coaches and players.”
That interaction, Stephanie Diaz said, is crucial.
She knows most fans have limited opportunities to get to know the players they cheer.
There may be some brief handshakes at Hurricane Walk before home games at Hard Rock Stadium or the chance for a quick picture or autograph at an annual event like CanesFest.
But at Saturday’s clinic, there will be more time, more chances to meet the players who drive the Hurricanes program and get to know them as more than just athletes.
“The value of an experience like this is that you can’t get a thousand people at Hurricane Walk, for example, close to our staff or our players,” Stephanie Diaz said. “You’ve got thousands of people and hundreds of feet between you and the players at a game. You can get an autograph at CanesFest, but you can’t really meet them and ask them questions like you will at Saturday’s panel. We want this to be intimate so that people have enough time and opportunity to connect with everyone on the staff, the players, the support staff, everyone. There’s never another time you can do something like this”
Added Manny Diaz, “In the game of football, when the guys are dressed up, they do look like gladiators down there, but all those players are someone’s son. They’ve got great personalities. We’ve got a locker room of really outstanding young men and the more we get to show them off when they’re not just scoring touchdowns or preventing touchdowns is a great thing.”
For more information and to sign up for the Manny Diaz Women’s Football Clinic, visit MannyDiazFootballCamps.com.