Muskegon Thunder Public Signing Event
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on OurSportsCentral.com, Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Muskegon Thunder of the Continental Indoor Football League held a public player signing event at a local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Muskegon on January 23. Team owner Don Pringle and head coach Shane Fairfield introduced the newest members of the professional indoor football team to a packed house of fans, family and friends.
Eleven new players officially signed contracts with the team during the evening. One of the players who signed was Adam Pringle, the son of the team owner and a co-owner of the team himself. He also is the team's President of Football Operations and the Co-Director of Player Personnel. Adam previously played for the Oklahoma Crude in the National Indoor Football League and will be a defensive lineman for the Thunder.
Several Thunder players who had previously signed with the team were also in attendance including receiver Richard Gills, who played for another team in the league last season, the Battle Creek Crunch. The Crunch folded after last season. The Thunder now have over 30 players under contract.
Team owner and general manager Don Pringle decided to invest in an indoor football team about a year ago and approached the league owners about expanding to Muskegon. "Last January," Pringle recalled, "we had an opportunity to meet the owners of the league and I asked the question, 'Would you be interested in expanding further in Michigan?' They said, 'Sure we would. We'd love to come see your arena.' They did that last February and from that point on, we've been going a hundred miles an hour!"
The Thunder became the first expansion team in the league, which was then known as the Great Lakes Indoor Football League, and were officially introduced last May. When he is not overseeing the operations of the team, Pringle is a self employed, personal financial analyst.
Head coach Shane Fairfield was an assistant football coach at Muskegon Catholic Central and Muskegon High School for several years and has been the head coach at Holton High School for the last four years. He is looking forward to the anticipated rivalries with the two other CIFL teams in Michigan this season, the defending league champion Port Huron Pirates and the Kalamazoo Xplosion. "It's something that the people in (Muskegon) can relate to," said Fairfield. "Sometimes it's hard to get up for a Wooster, Ohio team or Rochester, NY or Chicago team just because they're not familiar with the (team) name or the area. There's nothing better than a rivalry game. It all comes down to the state of Michigan bragging rights."
Fairfield likes how the team's schedule is set up also. The last four games of the regular season are all home games beginning Memorial Day weekend. "That's when we have a lot of tourists coming to Lake Michigan," Fairfield said. "Hopefully by that time we're talking playoff hunt and we can really fill those seats." One of those four games is a rematch with the Thunder's closest geographical rival, Kalamazoo, on Saturday night, June 16.
Rounding out the Thunder coaching staff are offensive coordinator Brent White and defensive coordinator Terry Foster. Foster will be a busy coach this year, splitting his time with another professional football team in the area as well. He is also an assistant defensive coach with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League. Foster also played for the Rampage at one time as well as the Green Bay Blizzard of arenafootball2.
The team is still working on procuring an artificial playing surface for the L.C. Walker Arena and negotiations are also continuing to have a local radio station carry Thunder games this season.
Training camp for the 2007 season begins on Thursday, March 1. The Thunder kicks off the season on the road against the Wayne County Rumble in Ohio on Saturday, March 24. The first home game of the season will also be against Wayne County on Friday, April 13 at the L.C. Walker Arena.
For more information, visit the team's official web site at www.muskegonthunder.com.