Game-ready females talk football with the Oakland Raiders |

Game-ready females talk football with the Oakland Raiders

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
PHOTO BY ANN YUKISH-LEE Carson City Raiders Booster Club member Paulette Patay, left, gets autographs from Oakland Raiders players Grant Irons, center, and Sam Williams recently at the Raiders Football 101 Workshop for Women.

The Oakland Raiders hosted their ninth annual Football 101 Workshop for Women recently with several women from the Carson City Raiders Booster Club attending. The event was held at the Raiders training facility in Alameda, Calif.

At the workshop were Ann Yukish-Lee, Paulette Patay, Cleo Costa and Rhonda Costa-Landers.

An event that teaches women the fundamentals of football and more, Football 101 raises funds for the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center to provide breast cancer treatment and mammograms to underinsured and/or low-income women. More than $175,000 has been raised through the workshops.

Raider players provided spirited information about special teams, offense and defense, in addition to Head Coach Art Shell taking time to address the women in attendance, many of whom have attended the workshop several times.

“This is for a great cause,” Shell said. “We appreciate your support.”

Shell said in addition to addressing penalties, they were preparing physically and mentally for the Pittsburgh Steelers and fielded questions from the audience.

First out to talk about special teams were safeties Stewart Schweigert and Jarrod Cooper. With game film being shown on a screen, Schweigert described the play and the role each special team player has.

“In this play, the Raiders have to punt,” he said. “And in my position, I am the personal protector of Shane (Lechler, punter),” Schweigert said. “It’s my job to stop any player from getting to him.”

“Basically, if your special team isn’t any good, you don’t have a good team,” Cooper added, touting the speed of Schweigert on the playing field.

Pulling duty for the defense were linebackers Sam Williams and Grant Irons.

“If we call an ‘Under Sam Zero,’ we’re going to blitz the offense,” Irons said smiling. “It’s my job to get to the quarterback and hurt him. That’s my responsibility.”

Williams noted what it takes to have a good defense.

“You have to have trust with each other as players,” Williams said. “We’ve been together three years and have learned the system well.

“And when you hear the phrase, ‘defense in a box,’ that’s 1-on-1 man coverage.”

Entering North Carolina State University on a partial track scholarship is Oakland Raiders wide receiver Alvis Whitted. Whitted played two years of high school football, and in his sophomore year of college was the fastest man in the world in the 100-meter dash.

“Receivers can be creative,” Whitted said. “Once you have the ball, it gets fun. You can run anywhere you want.

“But then you have guys like Coop trying to take your head off.”

Whitted said fast is good, an element Raiders owner Al Davis likes. But to be a good receiver, Whitted said you have to have technique.

“I have been blessed to be playing as long as I have,” Whitted said of his nine years in football.

“I have learned from Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Randy Moss, men who have technique. I am thankful for this opportunity.”

Ann Yukish-Lee, a first-time attendee, said the presentation was excellent.

“I learned more simply by hearing the players talk and the verbiage they used,” Yukish-Lee said.

“They were very funny and knowledgeable about the team and their positions. It was very welcoming.”

The ladies received an added bonus when Irons and Cooper returned to the stage without their shirts to show off their “game ready” physiques. Whitted, Cooper and Irons remained on stage to assist emcee Renel, the voice of the San Francisco Giants and a Raiders fan, in handing out drawing prizes.

The more than 120 women attending the workshop lined up to get autographs from the players then headed out in groups to tour the Raiders facility, including the weight and locker rooms.

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.