by Randy Snow
December 4, 2005 - Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) - Battle Creek Crunch
The Battle Creek Crunch of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL) held the first open tryout in team history on December 3, 2005. Over 60 prospective players showed up at the Kingdom Indoor Center, an indoor soccer facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to show off their skills before Crunch Head Coach Bob Kubiak and his coaching staff.
The tryout participants lifted weights, were measured in the standing long jump and timed in the 40-yard dash and the short shuttle. There were also passing and agility drills performed during the three-hour session. A separate tryout for kickers will be held sometime in January due to the low ceiling at the Kingdom Indoor Center.
When he is not preparing to put together a team for the inaugural GLIFL season, Kubiak is the assistant head coach at nearby Olivet College, a Division III school that plays in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. So it was no surprise that there were several players sporting Olivet T-Shirts at the tryout.
The coach was impressed by the performance of some of his former players. "A lot of times those Division III guys are late bloomers," said Kubiak. "They could have been Division I guys, but not right out of high school. It took them a year or two to get going. D-III, D-II, D-I, they\'ve all got good athletes."
The passing drills, which took place at the end of the tryout, were video taped for later review. The next step will be to evaluate the players that participated and decide who they might want on the team\'s 18-player roster. Another four players will also be assigned to the team\'s practice squad.
"The next (tryout) will be an Invite Only, and a lot of those guys will come from this tryout," Kubiak said. "We\'ve got a great location being in Battle Creek because we\'re in the middle of Ann Arbor (University of Michigan), Michigan State, Grand Valley (Division II) and Western Michigan. In the proximity of an hour or an hour and half (from Battle Creek), there are five Division I universities. Our first game is April 7 and I think we\'ll have a chance to pick up a senior or two from some of those schools."
There was a wide range in ages of the players who came to take part in the Crunch tryout. Some had their parents with them, others brought their wives/girlfriends and some even brought their children, but they all came for one reason, to show that they can still play football. Playing backgrounds were also quite diverse. Some had played at large colleges, others played at small colleges and some had even played semi-pro and indoor football before. One player even provided game tapes to Coach Kubiak from his time spent in a different indoor league.
There are still a lot of things that need to be done before the Battle Creek Crunch kickoff their first game in April. The helmet design needs to be finalized, uniforms have to be purchased, a playing surface has to be procured and installed at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek (where the team will play its home games) and the team still has to come up with a place to practice. However, with the first player tryout now completed, the team has taken the first real steps towards putting players on the field and making this team a reality.