WESTFIELD, Ind.– The Indianapolis Colts’ training camp is back in full swing. The team will host their third practice Friday morning at Grand Park.
COVID-19 has changed the fan experience this year, restricting how close you can get to the players, but there is one fan the Colts can’t keep away.
Farmer Craig Wood has held the title of “Unofficial Backyard of the Indianapolis Colts” for years. In fact, before it was their training camp, it was his crop field.
“This ground used to raise crops and of grain, and now we’re raising crops of kids. And that’s, really what it is,” Wood said. “We never guessed that we would have the Colts in our backyard.”
Selling off 150 acres of his 190-acre farm stead along East 191st Street to the city for the Grand Park development back in 2011, Wood kept 40 acres to play on.
“It’s been a win-win. And then we get the opportunities like the Colts coming here, experiences like that you just can’t buy. So it’s been really good,” Wood said. “It’s been a good life and we keep it just kind of on a smaller scale now that we’ve finished a few head of hogs and cattle for the freezer, and that’s a nice sideline business.”
There are no Colts on these sidelines. Instead stands quite the offensive line of cattle.
“I called one of them Beefy. And one of them Porky. Cheesy and Milky,” Cael O’Dougherty, Wood’s grandson said. “I’m a pretty lucky kid to be able to have the Colts play in our backyard, also to have Grand Park cause I get to go on walks.”
Summer days spent on his grandpa’s farm, taking walks, playing catch and, of course, watching the Colts practice, are some of his favorite.
If you ask him, his grandpa made the right choice.
“Being able to have this in our backyard is just like… wow!” Cael said. “We’ve really had some fun too with that the ‘Unofficial Backyard of the Colts.’ Yeah we were thinking of like taking like a 12-foot thing of plastic and then it saying, ‘The Unofficial Backyard of the Indianapolis Colts.’ Getting a banner made but… we’ll see,” Cael and Wood quipped.
There are still days when Wood misses his old field.
“Just to go back and forth on the combine, or the tractor. Oh if I had a dollar for every time I went back and forth, I’d be a really rich man,” Wood said. “That feeling was kind of special to me because that was the field. So that just, really feels good.”
But there’s pride in knowing, these days, his land yields a different crop.
“To be kind of in a tangential way, part of their developing and knowing that you’re a small part of it, but even so, when they’re successful, hey you know I helped out with that and that feels pretty good too,” Wood said. “There’s a little bit of a feeling of, in a way you’re kind of helping the team to develop, to train, to work on their skills. To be able to be loosely involved with that, that’s got a sense of satisfaction.”
If you’d like to get a seat of your own at one of the Colts training camp sessions, you’ve still got plenty of time. Public practices run through the end of August.
Tickets are, as always, free of charge.