Spokane Ready to Shock the Arena Football League

Spokane Shock Stepping Up

I wanted to find out what, if any difference there might be in the talent of the teams from AF2 and the returning AFL squads. The best way to do that would be by speaking with the most successful AF2 team that is making the transition. In four years, the Shock won the AF2 title twice. In that four years they were in the playoffs each season and did lose one title game. While doing that, the team led the league in attendance each season. So, what do they expect now that they are in the AFL?

I spoke with the Director of Communication for the five-year-old Spokane Shock, Kevin Maloney. He and his team are glad to be in the AFL and do in fact believe that it is a step up for the players.

He said, “It is a different level of play and the team cannot rest on their laurels or the teams past success or glory. They must prepare to play at a higher level.”

I asked if the Shock and Rattlers had a pipeline for players that they shared, he said no, “the ties of players moving from Shock to Rattlers are coincidental.” “Davila, current Rattlers QB and former top gun for the Shock wanted to be closer to So-Cal and his new baby and family, so it worked out well for Nick.”

I asked if the AFL talent, its experience, and reach were part of the Shock’s move to the new league. “All of the above, the talent, national broadcast of games, NFL Network, and their game of the week. Now the front office needs to step. The talent in the AFL, no question it is a higher level of football. The highest levels are the NFL, Canada, now the UFL, and then the AFL. That is it, there is no higher level. The AFL is the highest level of indoor football there is.”

“A good is example is our new Head Coach Rob Keefe, he was great AF2 player and had 19 interceptions in 2 years and went to play for the AFL Soul and had zero that shows the difference.”

I wanted to know if being at this new level made it harder or easier to recruit? “Both, the Shock have added a 2,000 square foot weight room and a new locker room. We want to do everything we can within the rules to make ourselves a better team. We added more seats for our fans. These are all things that before we did not need.”

“In the world of the AFL, everyone has heard of the Chicago, Orlando, Jacksonville, Milwaukee teams, not everyone has heard of Spokane! The first two weeks of training camp have gone well, we and the players are adapting, and they notice the difference and want to play here, to stay here, and make it a place to live in the off season.”

Will you use the Shock’s success and tradition or are you starting from scratch in the AFL? “We will use our tradition and wins on the field. It is one of the reason players want to be a part of our team. We have great fans and a winning tradition and we will not shy away from that. We are doing the right thing”

Rivals, who will they be in the AFL? “Our division opponents are our rivals. Of course, any team that has former Shock players on it will become rivals because they are fan favorites and everyone knows them. We are in a unique division because we only have three teams in ours and everyone else had four.”

Do you need to make adjustments due to any rule changes? “No, the rules are the same so that part is seamless.”

On community involvement, will that become a bigger, or less of an effort? “We are deeply involved in our community and because Coach Keefe was as involved as a player he will step it up as the Head Coach. He, our team, and I (Kevin Maloney) will be leading the team in community in season and out of season.”

The Shock is part of a big event we do with Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, the “Free Cone Day.” They give out free ice cream at the Ben and Jerry Franchises and use Celebrity Scoopers at each location. Each Celebrity picks a local charity to donate the funds that are raised to.”

“The Shock also participate in Read Across America, it celebrates the creator of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The team, players and Coach Keefe, will read and participate. We are also deeply involved with the Children’s Miracle Network and have raised a lot of money for them.”

Sounds like the Shock is a 24/7 kind of place? “We are always looking for ways to be different, to become better, and to make things better for our community, our fans, and our players. Our team ownership is involved on a daily basis. Majority Owner, Brady Nelson, his office is right behind mine and he is checking in with me and heavily involved as is GM Adam Nebeker. We have a young franchise, youth in ownership and all around the organization. There is a very high energy level here. We are working towards improving, 24/7 365 days a year.”

There has been a change in pay structure in the AFL, many players have decided not play and take the cut. How has this affected you coming from the AF2? “It has meant an increase for us and we have had to account for it in our budget. That is why we added more seats. Tickets sales, that is our bread and butter, we led the AF2 in attendance and we are going to strive to be the top in the AFL. We know you have to spend a lot to make a lot and make things grow.”

“There are former Shock players that went to the AFL prior to our joining and they were making six figure salaries. They are taking a pay cut to stay in the game, it is not easy to continue. But if they want to continue their football career, this, the AFL is the best place to do that.”

“One of our former players Charles Dillon, was spotted at one of our off season workouts because he caught the attention of the Green Bay Packers. They asked him to come into the offices and signed him after giving him a private workout. He still has to make the Packers roster, but what a great thing.”

“The Shock, as part of joining the AFL, a fan based league we held three national open tryouts. One in Los Angeles, one in Atlanta and one in Pullman, Washington home of the Washington State Cougars. Now I can say that nearly 90% of the participants in our tryouts were there by invitation. Our Director of Player Personnel Ryan Rigmaiden did a great job with these events.”

How do you tell a traditional football fan about Arena Football? “I only found out about the game five years ago. Once I saw a game, I was hooked. There are so many different elements to the game. Things that separate it from the outdoor game. Field size, speed, the nets, scoring and more. Once a purist attends, they will be glad they did.”

Kevin Pakos is a writer, photographer, radio host/producer, cable tv host/producer and has been involved in journalism since 1972. He founded the Sports and Entertainment Newspaper a tabloid in Arizona, produced weekly cable tv shows and is now producing two radio shows including ASPN Arizona Sports Network Radio. 무료스포츠티비

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