August 1, 2009
Saturday marked the Steelers’ first open practice of the 2009 training camp. Hoping to get a look at the Super Bowl champions, fans turned out in large numbers.
While I don’t believe the Steelers attempt to count the number of people who attend the open practices, it is safe to say that Saturday’s crowd was pretty big. According to Chris Kimmel, supervisor of the Saint Vincent Dining Services, Saturday was the busiest day he can recall for beverage sales at the concession stands.
Michele Fulmer, Bob Fulmer, and Cindy Gallaher, drove all the way from Cleveland to attend their first Steelers training camp. The Fulmers are die-hard Steelers fans who host Steelers parties at their home every weekend during the NFL season. They said that lots of friends show up to root for the Steelers right there in the middle of Cleveland Browns territory.
Closer to home, Brian Risko brought his dad Fran Risko to training camp for a bit of father/son bonding. Brian has been to Steelers training camp each of the past 5 years in a row. However, his dad Fran was making his first trip to Steelers training camp.
I asked Fran what he was most looking forward to seeing when he came to training camp. He told me that he was looking forward to seeing Big Ben. After seeing him, Fran was even more impressed. “I didn’t think Ben was THAT big”, said Risko. “He’s a big boy!”
Even kids got into the action. Six year old Olivia Poleski and her brother, 8 year old Grady Poleski, were both excited about attending their first Steelers training camp. Based on the #86 jersey that Olivia was wearing, I assume she is a Hines Ward fan. Good choice, Olivia.
But Olivia and Grady weren’t the youngest Steelers fans at training camp. There were plenty of fans even younger than them at practice on Saturday.
The Steelers organization does an excellent job of making sure there are plenty of fun activities for the kids to take advantage of.
I think I heard this young Steelers fan yell “here we go Steelers” a few time. I don’t know who his parents are, but they are definitely winners in my book. Seeing budding Steelers fans like this just brings a tear to my eyes.
If you’ve never been to Steelers training camp, you should make a point to change that this year. It’s a great outing for the whole family, and it’s probably your best opportunity to get an autograph from your favorite Steelers player.
If you haven’t read our other Day 2 coverage, be sure to read the following articles:
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