Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Brings New Hope In Bossier CIty

The Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings opened training camp Sunday. The Wings stumbled through the 2006 season and the community hardly noticed. After six seasons in CenturyTel Center, a Battle Wing buzz has yet to develop. New general manager Butch Bellah thinks things are about to change, saying the 2007 team “is going to make a lot of noise in af2.”
At least people around town are talking about the team. The signing of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter assured that. Carter agreed to play at this level in an effort to rehabilitate his image in pro football following his well-chronicled struggles with marijuana and the police. He has been working diligently to overcome his troubles, and now will concentrate on playing well enough in the Arena game to command notice at a higher level. "It is perfect for my skills,” Carter said the day he was signed. “I know quite a few players who have moved from the outdoor game to the AFL and af2, and even more that have moved from arena football to the outdoor game.”
If nothing else, Carter’s presence on the roster has created curiosity. If the Wings can attract fans to the arena, the next step on the road to success is to win. If that happens, the fans should show up in more significant numbers. Team owner Dan Newman said “We thought for sure we would win in 2006. We didn't. But we've never had the experience in our coaching staff or the seasoned veterans who will play here to begin this season. These players are all hungry to get to the next level. Some have been there before, and are trying to get back as quickly as possible." If Carter is a one-year wonder, everybody wins.
Each of the last two seasons, the Battle Wings won just three games and lost thirteen. A glance at the 2006 roster shows an abundance of players with no arena football experience. Many Wings players simply didn’t understand the game. That, combined with an alarming early-season rash of significant injuries to key players, contributed to a downward spiral the coaching staff could not correct.
This season things have changed. New coach Jon Norris, who brings with him a record of success in Arena Football, has assembled a veteran team. That has something to do with his reputation. Most recently, Norris was defensive coordinator of the AFL’s Austin Wranglers and before that he coached with the Dallas Desperados. He was the head coach for the af2 Tulsa Talons their first season in existence, and led them to the playoffs. Newman said, "I knew we had to find a coach who knew the game, had a winning tradition before coming here, and could attract players to Bossier-Shreveport who are looking for a shot at moving on to the AFL and NFL. Coach Norris has committed for two years to head the Battle Wings. Players now know that Jon will be here for the long haul and is committed to help them develop skills to move them up."
Newman and Norris have become fond of saying that this team has an “opportunity to win like no previous BattleWings' team has before them,” which, frankly, is easy to say. In six seasons, the team’s best record has been nine wins and seven losses. The Wings will be working to earn their first trip to the playoffs. The sentiment is real for Newman, who enters his fourth season as the team’s owner. Spring is a season of optimism for Newman, who has been trying to find a winning formula. Each year, he has had high hopes that he has cobbled together the structure of a championship contender. It sounds like hype, but he is an optimist who believes it when he is told his team has the players and the coaches to contend for the af2 title.
Newman, Norris, Bellah and Carter are true believers. They need to cultivate a community of converts. In football, nothing preaches like winning.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: