By Laura Fenton
More than 80 women schmoozed in the front lobby, clad in blues, grays, tiger stripes
or Sunday’s best while sipping blue “Tiger Tinis” from Memphis football wine glasses.
Once cocktail hour ended, the women proceeded to the Team Room to learn the basics
— of football.
In what is planned to be an annual event for Tiger football, head coach Justin Fuente
and the entire coaching staff hosted the first “Football by Fuente,” a women’s football
informational clinic in mid-July at the Billy J. Murphy Athletics Complex to prepare
female fans for the football season. Tiger football opened on Sept. 1 versus UT-Martin.
Fuente said every football clinic designed for women is entertaining, but the most
enjoyable piece is the one he might not see.
“Maybe they’ll have some tidbit they can throw back at their significant other when
he boasts about knowing something about what’s going on, on the football field. Maybe
they can throw back something else and put (him) back on (his) heels a little bit.”
Fans like Dr. Greta Coger, wife of a former U of M professor, listened to the chatter
of her students on the football team while she was a teacher at Northwest Mississippi
Community College, but never comprehended the rules. Now she gets it.
“In all these years, I never really understood football,” Coger said. “Tonight, I
feel like I understand football. I think I’ll watch more games.”
Coaches explained the ins and outs of college football to a female audience who were
seeking more insight into the game during the “Football by Fuente” event in July.
(Photo by Laura Fenton)
Coaching staff explained the positions, basics of plays and lingo to the novice audience.
But more obvious to the audience was the care coaches took to introduce and thank
their wives before beginning presentations.
Humor was the lifeline of the program. Defensive line coach Tim Billings explained
possession as “the football is always ours, they just happen to have it,” and that
the “big, ugly tough guys are the defensive ones.” And, in Tiger defense lingo, turnovers
are known as “take-backs.”
Marquette Vaughn, the wife of cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn, appreciated the opportunity
to meet other women who enjoy and support Tiger football.
“You don’t realize how many women love football until an event like this,” she said.
Vaughn laughed as she recalled the first time she attended a clinic like “Football
by Fuente” because it was the initial time she learned what her husband actually did
at work. After 12 years of marriage, all of which her husband has been a coach, she
tries to attend as many practices as she can with her children so everyone can understand
and have excitement for her husband’s job.
Jenny Fuente, wife of the head coach, has been to at least seven women’s football
clinics, despite following football long before marrying Justin.
“I know the basics, for sure, but I appreciate the inside scoop and getting to know
our coaches better,” she said.
Instilling Tiger pride in athletics staff, football team members and the community
is an initiative Fuente has exhibited since joining the U of M family earlir this
“I think it’s important for us to have pride in what we have here,” Fuente said. “We
have an opportunity to show off what we have, show off the quality of people that
are here, and I think we need to take advantage of those opportunities. If we have
the opportunity for somebody to learn the fight song and have a little bit more pride
in what’s going on here, then I think that’s important. I think providing an education
of what we have, our history and what we are proud of is important.”
Faculty and staff can purchase discounted season ticket packages. Contact the Ticket
Office at 678-2331 for more information.