Colleen Faupel was not THAT far away from her hometown of Oaklyn, N.J., but she did not have the comfort and security of fellow Eagles fans to curb the trash talk from Giants and Jets fans.
Faupel changed all of that just over three years ago when she moved back to her hometown from Edison, N.J. In addition to being around the support of family and friends, the prevalent sight of midnight green was welcome as well.
"I love being back in Eagles country. I love that I can walk anywhere and see someone wearing an Eagles jersey," Faupel said. "If you see any indication that someone is an Eagles fan, you're OK. You're cool. It doesn't matter where you are. I think that's something that really resonates."
Once Faupel was back in the area, she wanted to find a way to re-connect with a good friend from her childhood, Jill Torbert. The two were close friends in grade school, but grew apart in high school. They reunited a few years before Faupel moved back to the area when a mutual friend, Marge Trimble, was battling brain cancer. Trimble lost her battle three years ago, but Faupel and Torbert have stayed in touch ever since.
The predicament that Faupel and Torbert face is similar to that of most childhood friends who are now grown up. While Faupel is back in the area, Torbert lives over two hours away in Westminster, Md. with her husband and two sons, who are 6 and 2 years old.
"With two kids and working, it's hard for me to get up there and visit," Torbert said.
Two years ago, Torbert saw an ad promoting the Eagles Academy for for Women and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see her friend.
"I said, 'Oh, this sounds really cool. I love the Eagles. It would be great to learn more about football," Torbert said.
The two spent the March afternoon two years ago learning about Eagles football from players and coaches. They heard from award-winning NFL Network reporter Andrea Kremer, a Philadelphia native who was the keynote speaker. Faupel and Torbert got to sit in the same meeting room as the Eagles do, be in the locker room that the players use and eat lunch in the cafeteria. Oh, and they also got to show off their skills on the practice field. Most importantly, the two childhood friends started an annual tradition.
"We had so much fun. Every year, we look forward to seeing the ad for it and looking to see if we can go again," Torbert said. "Now, we've made it our thing to get together."
Last February, there was a tremendous amount of excitement regarding the recent hire of new head coach Chip Kelly. Faupel and Torbert felt that energy when they took part in the Eagles Academy.
"You could feel the buzz in the building. Everyone was so happy to be there," Torbert said. "The coaches were so enthusiastic. You could tell everybody's mood was so enthusiastic about everything that was going on with the organization. I was excited to see how many changes Chip Kelly would make."
They learned about Kelly's sports science training and what to look for on the field. Torbert has even impressed her husband, who is unfortunately from Pittsburgh and everything that is entailed with that, with her newfound knowledge.
"I'm not a football expert at all. I can follow the game. I play fantasy football. I found the classroom experience where you got to actually sit there and learn more about the game to be really fun," Faupel said.
"How can you not have fun?" Torbert said. "You learn about football. They make it easy to understand. Then you get to meet players and the different coaches. It's so much fun. I get to be a kid, have fun and hang out with my friend."
Torbert and Faupel already have their tickets for this year's get-together at the Eagles Academy on Saturday, April 5 ready to create another memory.