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Comeback Kickoff

by Randy Snow

Originally published in the Kalamazoo Hometown Gazette, East Edition, Monday, April 24. 2006

It seems that some people just can’t get the game of football out of their systems.

Take Brian Dolph, for example.

He played wide receiver and safety at Galesburg-Augusta High School and was named to the All-Kalamazoo Valley Association team as a senior in 1995. He went on to play college football at Division II Saginaw Valley State, where he set several school and conference records in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He was named GLIAC Player of the Year in 2000. Dolph also spent time in the Arena Football League, first with the Houston Thunderbears in 2001 and then with the Indiana Firebirds in 2002.

After that, however, it looked as if his playing days were over, so Dolph decided the time had come to put football behind him and settle down. He became an insurance salesman in Kalamazoo, got married, bought a house and had a son.

But the game was never far from his mind. To fill the void, he became the offensive coordinator for the Galesburg-Augusta varsity football team in 2003.

Dolph’s life was going along just fine. His playing days might have been over, but he was coaching the game he loved and that was just fine with him.

Then, recently, some friends told him about a new indoor professional football team coming to Battle Creek that was holding tryouts. They told him he should see if they still had any opening, so he did. The season started April 7. 

“There’s something about this game that just sticks with you,” Dolph said. “You either love it or you hate it. I love it.”

Dolph contacted former Kalamazoo Central High School head coach Bob Kubiak, now the head coach of the Battle Creek Crunch. Kubiak, in turn, made a few phone calls of his own in order to find out more about Dolph’s playing career. He soon found out that Dolph definitely was someone he wanted on his team.

A playing career filled with awards and records is one thing, but Kubiak also wanted to see if Dolph still had it on the field. After just a few practices, he knew he had a special player.

“He’s polished,” Kubiak said of Dolph. “You can really tell he’s played the (indoor) game before. He runs very good routes and he carries himself like a professional. He’s a good guy to have when you’re starting a team like this. He’s a guy you want to build a team around.”

Does Dolph have any plans to try and get back to playing in the more established Arena Football League?

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Dolph said. “I guess if the right opportunity presented itself, maybe, but that’s definitely not the reason (for playing again). I think it would really be neat for my wife and my son to watch me play. I’m not trying to make a big comeback. I’m still young enough to physically be able to do it and not too old to where I don’t want to do it. There’s a competitive side of me that needs to be filled and this is the way to do it”

The new league will include six teams during its inaugural season, mainly in states that border the Great Lakes. The other teams include a second team in Michigan, the Port Huron Pirates, the Marion Mayhem in Ohio, the Lehigh Valley Outlawz in Pennsylvania, the Rochester Raiders in New York and a traveling team, the New York/New Jersey Revolution. 

The new Great Lakes Indoor Football League is not affiliated with the 20-year-old Arena Football League and will play 7-on-7 football as opposed to the 8-on-8 style of the AFL.

All home games played at Kellogg Arena. Thursday and Friday home games will begin at 7:05 p.m., Saturday games at 7:35 p.m. and Sunday games at 2:05 p.m.


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