There were glitches. Anyone who attempted to negotiate the frequent I-95 traffic snarls to reach this camp from the D.C. area quickly discovered that could be a maddening experience.
Approximately 100 fans were treated for heat-related symptoms on fan appreciation day. Some of those who attended said they found the experience to be memorably unpleasant. Freeman, the fan from Williamsburg, said: “It was mobbed! That wasn’t too great.”
Al Seaforth, a fan who’d attended previous training camps in Ashburn, said: “I’m still getting used to the environment. I’m used to going in Ashburn. This facility is a little bigger and more accommodating, so that’s a plus. If I had to say, I think Ashburn was a little better.”
The Redskins generally had good luck with the weather. There were only a few truly steamy days. There were some rainy days, including one soggy stretch that prompted the team to have a helicopter fly low above the practice fields to help dry them. The fields generally drained well, although some of the surrounding areas encompassing tents for VIPs and radio and television stations were left muddy messes. The team has an indoor practice facility in Ashburn but lacks one in Richmond, although there are tentative plans to add one at some point.
Players said they didn’t mind riding shuttle buses between the practice facility and the team’s hotel a few miles away. The team’s still-glistening new facility includes a locker room, trainer’s room and weight room. But meetings and midday naps took place at the hotel. Players said being away at camp created a bonding experience that might be helpful during the season.
“I think it’s been good,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said. “It gives guys a chance to focus in more, I think. It’s only us out here. Nobody really knows anyone. We just stick together.”
Said tight end Fred Davis: “It’s a different environment, a different feeling. I feel like it’s definitely a good situation for everybody to have that camaraderie. ”
The Redskins will spend the remainder of the preseason based in Ashburn, bidding farewell Friday to Richmond until next summer. There’s no way of knowing whether they’ll be met with the same level of enthusiasm here next year, or if this year’s fan passion was attributable to the novelty of the situation. But clearly the Redskins, who have an eight-year deal to hold camp in Richmond, were made to feel welcome in their first year.
“I don’t have to go on the road,” said Miles Lofton, a fan from Richmond. “It’s wonderful. I hope they’re here forever and ever and ever. This is my fourth day out here. Parking was smooth. The only tough part is getting to RGIII! I want to get an autograph.”