The Manning Passing Academy (MPA) has reserved 100 free spots for Girls on the Run Bayou Region at its inaugural MPA Women and Girls Football 101 Clinic & Camp and donated autographed auction raffle items to the organization as part of its non-profit partnership for the camp this year.
The MPA approached Girls on the Run about sponsoring the organization, said Ashlee Laiche, executive council director for Girls on the Run Bayou Region.
“Girls I don’t feel like get the opportunity to learn as much about football as a lot of the other sports,” Laiche said. “Nothing is really like football, so for girls and women that watch it, it’s going to be a good way for them to just kind of learn a little bit more about the sport, so it’s exciting.”
While the camp is open to women and girls ages 13 and older, the spots reserved for Girls on the Run extend to girls in fifth grade and up. The spots are open to Girls on the Run members, alumni and coaches, as well as members of Nicholls Gamma Phi Beta sorority, whose philanthropy is Girls on the Run.
Along with the free spots, Laiche said that Peyton, Eli and Archie Manning signed various items for the organization to use in a raffle to raise money for scholarships. The items include a Denver Broncos jersey signed by Peyton, a New York Giants jersey signed by Eli, a football signed by all three Mannings and footballs signed by Peyton, Eli and Archie individually.
“The money that we get from the raffle will go to awarding scholarships for the girls that can’t pay,” Laiche said. “Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization, but it is fee-based for the program, so the scholarships we award go to those girls that can’t afford to pay for it.”
The first ever women and girls clinic will take place on June 25 and 26. On the first day, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers, including names like Stephanie Balochko of the Pittsburgh Steelers and NFL executive Lisa Friel.
On the second day, attendees will rotate through 10 stations where they will learn skills for each football position from coaches in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) and the Arena Football League (AFL).
The MPA created the women and girls camp after conversations arose regarding a lack of participation opportunities in the NFL for women, Laiche said. When they approached Archie with the idea, he asked that the camp take place this year.
“This is a historic moment for both the MPA and for the women and girls who want to play, learn and coach the great game of football,” Archie said in a statement. “Our camp director brought the concept to our family from a conversation with two former National Football League female staff members. We love the progressive idea and said, ‘Why wait’ and we moved forward to set the date.”
Laiche said that the Mannings’ recognition of women and girls’ interest in football and their ability to participate in the sport is “exciting.”
“Here and there we see little articles of like girls being a kicker on a football team, but I mean it can be more than that, and it’s nice to kind of get that ball rolling for our girls in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes,” Laiche said. “The Manning Passing Academy incorporating girls and inviting us into this program just shows that their support for our youth and for women.”
Laiche said she believes the MPA clinic will teach girls lessons that Girls on the Run emphasizes in its curriculum, including teamwork, confidence and healthy lifestyles. She hopes girls will find their strengths through the skills they learn.
“In the program, we focus on the girl as a person–finding herself, being able to recognize her strengths, be ok with her weaknesses and then also just be confident,” Laiche said. “It will be a nice way for the girls to see in one sport just because you have a weakness in one area, you can find that strength in another.”
Laiche said that the girls who have signed up so far are excited for the opportunity to learn more about football, especially since they have heard how much the boys who attend the MPA love the camp. If the camp proves to be a success, she said that she hopes Girls on the Run’s partnership with the MPA will continue.
“Who wouldn’t want to tie into the Manning Passing Academy?” Laiche said. “Everyone loves the Mannings.”