The Pittsburgh Steelers return to the Laurel Highlands July 27-August 15 for Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College for the 54th consecutive year! As someone who has attended camp as a guest and a member of the media, I've put together some of my tips to help you meet the players, avoid the crowds and stay cool as you enjoy watching the Black and Gold. (For more general information about dates and what to pack, view our Steelers Training Camp page).
1) Greet the Steelers as they come to the field
The Steelers usually come to the field 5-10 minutes before practice begins. Line up just below the stairs and along the fence from the Carey Center/SVC Bookstore, which I've circled in yellow on the map above. Players usually don't sign autographs before practice, but will often talk to fans, high-five or stop for a selfie. To get the best spots, plan on arriving 30 minutes to an hour before practice begins.
2) The best spot for autographs
Autographs aren't a guarantee at Steelers Training Camp, so follow these tips to increase your chances at success. While many players rush down to the field at the beginning of practice, many will hang around after practice to sign memorabilia or pose for photos. If you're sitting on the hillside at Saint Vincent, I recommend coming all the way down to the fenceline, which I've circled on the map below. You can also hang out below the bookstore, which is where players will pass to get back to the locker room.
Remember to have some pens and markers handy and keep your phone camera turned to selfie mode so you are ready to meet your favorite player when you get the chance!
3) Friday Night Lights
If you're looking for an all-day Steelers experience perfect for families, be sure to attend Friday Night Lights Aug. 2 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. During the day there are tons of games and prizes, facepainting, great food and even autograph sessions with Steelers alumni. Keep an eye out for the Super Bowl champion Lombardi trophies and your chance to take a photo with all six!
In the evening, head inside the stadium and cheer on the Steelers as they practice under the lights! Tickets are available at the gate or by calling 724-539-4236.
4) Bring your kids
Training Camp is much more than practice and autographs. There are tons of activities for children to participate in, too! Sign up for the Play 60 Fun Zone for one hour of football-themed exercise before practice begins.
At the entrance to camp, you'll find the Steelers Experience where kids can test their arms, dive through an obstacle course and more. Plus, kids will love getting their faces painted and the Steelers-themed photo booth.
5) Enter to Win On-Field VIP Steelers Passes
If you want to get even closer to the action and watch the Steelers practice on the field (trust me, it is pretty cool) there are a few chances to win VIP passes every day. To maximize your chances, download and register the Steelers App for your smartphone and sign up for Steelers Nation Unite, making sure you RSVP to Training Camp on their website.
6) Explore Saint Vincent College
While you're on campus, be sure to check out the unique sights at Saint Vincent College. Tour the amazing architecture of the iconic Basilica. Pick up some flour made right at the Gristmill. Learn about the legacy of Latrobe native Fred Rogers, star of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, at an interactive exhibit. Stay outside and walk the scenic Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve trail system or wetlands. End your day with a show at Saint Vincent Summer Theatre. For more tips about exploring the college, check out their blog.
7) Eat and Drink Local
It's hard work to sit out in the sun and cheer for the black and gold. Reward yourself with some great food and beer in and around the Latrobe area. Start with a frosty beer at Four Seasons Brewing right across the road, with 16 rotating drafts and live music and food trucks on select weekends.
Stop by Jioio's Restaurant in Latrobe for their one-of-a-kind pizza with sweet sauce and pastry-style crust, unique to our area. Or hit up Dino's or Sharky's, two sports bars just a few minutes from Saint Vincent. Both offer great menus, a large beer selection and some world-famous wings. I recommend the sweet and hot wings at Dino's and the Korean wings at Sharky's, two of my absolute favs.
Do you have any additional tips for getting the most out of Steelers Training Camp? Let us know in the comments below!