ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Not even a brief summer rain shower could deter the approximately 6,200 Chiefs fans who turned out for the first weekend practice of training camp.
Another standing-room only crowd was treated to a lively practice. Saturday was the team’s first day in full pads, and the team spent much of the day in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills to the fans’ delight.
The family atmosphere of Chiefs training camp has been a key part of the event’s success since returning to the Kansas City region in 2010. It seemed as if there were almost as many children and parents tossing around footballs and climbing the rock wall as there were fans in the stands watching practice.
Among the fans taking part in Family Fun Day were the King family, who made the trip from the Tulsa, Okla., area.
Lauren King is a member of the team’s Kids Club, and won the opportunity along with four other club members to participate in the thelmet walk, where kids get to walk with a Chiefs player off the practice field and carry his helmet.
“We’re season ticket holders and have been for a number of years, but this was our first time to training camp,” said Jeff King, Lauren’s father.
The family is making a weekend of their trip to Kansas City for training camp, planning to come back the next day for a special event for season ticket holders.
Lauren’s favorite player is Alex Smith, but she grabbed the hand of towering defensive lineman Mike DeVito, who walked off the field with her.
Also taking part in the helmet walk was Tayler Lancaster, who made the trip to training camp with her family from Bella Vista, Ark.
Her mother, Julie, said the family makes an annual trip to Kansas City for a Chiefs home game, but this was their first trip to training camp.
Tayler walked off the field with defensive back Marcus Cooper.
“It was fun,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’ll carry your helmet, but you’re going to have to let me walk on your arm, I’m a southern girl.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, sure,” and hands me his helmet and let me hold on to his arm.”
“I’m never washing this arm again,” she said.
Coach Andy Reid has indicated he would prefer to have training camp at the team’s facility away from prying eyes to limit the information opponents can glean.
Team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt met with the media at training camp following Saturday’s practice and said the Chiefs have not made a decision on whether to return to St. Joseph next season.
“It’s a decision that we will make after training camp,” Hunt said. “We will sit down as an organization, visit with the University and make a decision by the end of the year.”
If the team does elect to make training camp more private, the move would come at the expense of tremendous goodwill the team has built in St. Joseph the last five seasons.
“Part of building lifelong fans is allowing the fans to travel to these camps,” Julie Lancaster said. “Her (Tayler) connecting with the team today, I can’t imagine her ever liking another team.”