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For many sports like basketball, baseball, or golf, it’s easy to find an organized league where players can play competitively. However, for football it’s a little harder to find something beyond college. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has this report on a minor league football team that gives football players a chance to continue playing the sport they love.
Once a week players from around the area put on pads and hit the field to practice for a minor league football team called the Springfield Lightning. Kyle Grozinger bought the team two years ago after playing for one year.
“It means everything to me to give these guys a place to play and watch them excel in life.”
The Lightning play in the Central Plains Football League with teams from Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. The games are a little different from normal football. They play in a shorter and narrower field and only play with eight players.
Jacob Scott is a wide receiver for the team.
“There’s not a lot of chances to come out and play football. This is our chance. We’re Saturday warriors, it’s our chance to feel important I guess.”
Scott was referring to the fact that most of their games are on Saturday. And even though they don’t have a team bus, they still make it to almost all their games.
The team has a wide range of ages. Some are just out of high school, and a few have had a little more experience. Gary Wildschuetz, who has played football for 20 years, talks about playing with the younger guys.
“You never know what they might pull out from inside you, and you could do visa-versa for them too.”
Even though it is a minor league football team, no player gets paid to play. They themselves have to fork out one-hundred dollars in team fees each year.
However, not everything about the team involves football. When Grozinger took over as owner, he had the organization do community service work around Springfield. Paul Hannen plays on both the defensive and offensive lines.
“We’re out here for fun, it’s not like we’re professionals. If we can give back a little in the process that’s what it’s all about.”
This past Saturday the Lightning had plans for a game. However, the team did not show up, and Hannen thought that was a little suspicious.
“Maybe they saw how well we’re playing and didn’t want to play us. There could be a number of reasons, but I like to think maybe they were a little frightened to play us.”
The ultimate goal for the team is, of course, a championship and for Grozinger that would mean much more that just a title.
“The Springfield Lightning is like life to me so winning a championship would almost be like having another child to me at this point. It would be that great.”
The Lightning play at the “Summers at the River Sports Complex” in Nixa.
For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.