The Steelers announced on Wednesday that training camp will be back where it rightfully belongs this summer: At St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steelers will again spend parts of July and August intertwined with a community they’ve been close with since the mid-1960s.
I always wondered if the move to Heinz Field and the team’s South Side complex—the site of training camp the previous two summers—would become permanent since it has to be logistically easier to do that. At the same time, how complex can something be that you’ve been coordinating for over five decades?
Personally, it wouldn’t have mattered much to me if Pittsburgh kept its training camp at its team facilities—I’ve learned to roll with the punches as a sports fan—but I’m only one person, and I know it means the world to the folks up at Latrobe. Saint Vincent and the surrounding community is also a special and sacred place for so many Steelers fans at home and abroad.
I personally know folks who schedule their vacations around the opportunity to make the yearly pilgrimage to Latrobe; they spend multiple days there and, like the players, become a part of the community during the time they’re in town.
I tend to go to training camp once every few years or so, and it’s amazing the sense of history I feel when I’m there. Ever watch old Steelers training camp footage from decades ago? Those beautiful hills you see in the background as the players put in their work are as beautiful and stunning today as they were back then.
The Steelers often get criticized for being stuck in their ways, for being slow to adapt to the changing times, and that it holds them back from being able to fully compete with other NFL franchises. While that criticism does have merit in many cases—the organization most recently had to change its ways with the $80 million it guaranteed to T.J. Watt last summer—their respect for the past and tradition is certainly appreciated when they decide to not make a change just because it might be logistically easier.
I get the feeling that, despite the current cloudy prospects for the 2022 season, Latrobe will be rocking this summer like the Steelers are coming off a Super Bowl win.
Maybe I will go to Latrobe to take in a training camp session at St. Vincent College this summer, after all. It’s been four years since I’ve been up there.
That grassy hillside I’m always forced to sit on might be a pain in the (well, you know), but I’ll just bring an extra blanket or two.
After all, sitting on that hillside has become a tradition for me and thousands of other Steelers fans over the years.
Maybe I’ll stop taking it for granted.
The Steelers obviously have never taken it for granted.