UTAH UTES

Utah Football Brings Back Women’s Clinic After 15 Years Away

May 15, 2023, 8:57 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football opened their doors on May 12 to their female fan base, reviving the Women’s Clinic after a 15-year hiatus.

The clinic was a popular mainstay of the Utes’ calendar year for both attendees and players back in the late Mountain West days but was put on the back burner when Utah made the jump to the Pac-12.

With Utah football in a stable spot in the Conference of Champions, Director of On-Campus Recruiting Jolie Ale and Assistant to the Head Coach Rachel Moffit approached head coach Kyle Whittingham about bringing the popular event back. With Whittingham’s blessing, Ale and Moffit set to work around January of this year to bring the Women’s Clinic back to life.

 

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Back By Popular Demand

Year one of the return of the Women’s Clinic didn’t disappoint, nearly filling the entire defensive meeting room in the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Facility. The evening included dinner, film breakdowns of key offensive and defensive plays from the 2022 season, Q&As with coaches, players, and women on staff for Utah football and run throughs of basic drills the players perform in practices.

“It was a team effort,” Ale said. “Can’t take all of the credit for it alone. Rachel and I, along with Gianna [Colosimo] and the rest of our staff just wanted to bring it back after all of these years. We had the support of all of our coaching staff and players and all of the women who are so interested in Utah football.”

With more women being involved in sports and particularly football from a career-standpoint, as well as the growing awareness and interest in women’s sports, Moffit and Ale felt it was a good time to welcome women to learn about what Utah football is all about.

“I think an important thing for Jo and I when we talked about our goals was just getting more women involved in our football program,” Moffit said. “Teaching them what we are all about- what Utah football culture is all about and getting them out to games.”

What The Women On Staff Have Added To Utah Football

There was a point and time, years ago when yours truly would be the only woman for miles (it felt like) at Utah football practices outside of Sports Information Directors Liz Abel and Brooke Frederickson. Since then, Utah football (and the media outlets who cover them) have hired many amazing women to do a variety of different things for them whether it’s admin work, social media, PR/media, diet and nutrition, athletic training, equipment management, etc.

Part of what made the Women’s Clinic so special were the highlights of some of the Utes’ key players in Ale and Moffit as well as Director of Player Development Gianna Colosimo, Assistant A.D. for Communications Jordie Lindley, Assistant Director of Football Video Ali Winters, Assistant Creative Director Hannah Bettis, and Director of Football Nutrition Tyler Root in an effort to showcase the opportunities out there for women to work in football.

Another major cog in Utah football’s machine who kind of started the domino effect of women employed by Utah football is Creative Director Maddie Ford Hansen. Utah tight end coach Freddie Whittingham reflected on Hansen’s hiring and what it has meant for the trajectory of the program in terms of bringing on other talented women.

 

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“It has grown tremendously,” Whittingham said. “When I came in to be the Director of Player Personnel, my very first hire was Maddie Ford Hansen who became our Creative Social Media Director. From there it just kind of blossomed and bloomed. It’s a very male-dominated business. You go into most football facilities 10 years ago and it was probably 98-99% male. What I think these brave women have done- it’s all about adding value. They’ve come in and added value to our program in so many different ways and doing a great job. I think we’re blessed to have gone through this evolution and having so many great women working for us in our program.”

Defensive tackle Keanu Tanuvasa was one of the many players who participated in the Women’s Clinic last Friday and hopes the women who came to see what Utah football is like walked away loving it, while also echoing what Whittingham said about how the women on staff help make everything go.

“Utah football doesn’t function without the amazing women we have in our equipment room, our athletic training staff- all of the behind-the-scenes work to fit our schedules, Utah football doesn’t run without the women in our building and the women outside of our building,” Tanuvasa said. “Sports in general? There are amazing women athletes out there, just as equal as the men. I love both parties and I think I find joy in watching both parties. There is passion and energy in both sides of sports, and we need everyone a part of it.”

What Utah Football Has Meant To The Women In The Building

Moffit is actually Freddie Whittingham’s daughter and has grown up around football her whole life. Getting to work closely with her dad and uncle in place that has meant so much to her family for well over 30 years and continue to build the culture of Utah football has been very special for Moffit.

“Besides attending Utah football camps from when I was eight years old, I’ve always loved the sport,” Moffit said. “My grandpa coached, my dad coaches, my brother played. I wanted to be a football player and I’ve breathed, loved, lived football since I was little so working here has been a dream.”

Ale grew up in a very similar environment to Moffit where football is the family business and naturally became a love and passion. Coming to Utah and being involved in a football environment Ale says is different than anywhere else has been an honor.

“I actually went to the ‘other’ Pac-12 school…USC…but working for coach Whitt and this football program has been a true honor,” Ale said. “I’ve loved every second of it and being around a culture that is very specific and unique to Utah football. It’s not something you get any day, every day in all of college sports.”

What Is Next For Utah Football’s Women’s Clinic

Utah football is in a period where it feels like everything is peaking at the right time, including the brand on a more national level. Whittingham hopes to continue efforts to make the program feel accessible to everyone and believes the Women’s Clinic is an important event toward that goal.

“I think it’s inclusive,” Whittingham said. “Everyone can relate. Women who love football and love Utah football can see women just like themselves involved at a grassroots, ground level as an employee. I think it gives that feeling of ‘I can do anything I want to do’. We’re a very inclusive organization and I think it’s phenomenal.”

Both Ale and Moffit believe this is the start of something that will continue to grow and get bigger as the years go on. Ale sees the Women’s Clinic as a vehicle to not only bring more women into Utah football as fans, but also highlight career possibilities with the women who currently sit on the staff as well.

“We had a great turnout this year,” Ale said. “But we definitely always want to grow and involve more women- bring them into the fold of giving them the ‘day and the life’ of Utah football. Not just as a football player or football coach, but the women at Utah football. I think it’s great to have people like Rachel and Gianna, and Jordie, and Ali, and Hannah giving that inside look as well.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

 

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Utah Football Brings Back Women’s Clinic After 15 Years Away