Saturday, February 23, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wichita Wild Releases Official Preseason Practice Schedule
The Wichita Wild has officially released their preseason practice schedule for the 2013 season. The Wild will begin practices on February 24th for their upcoming season in the newly formed Champions Professional Indoor Football League. The Wild would like to welcome members of the media and most importantly Wichita's wildest fans to come out and watch the team prepare for this exciting new season. All practices are open to the public and are free of charge. The team will begin two-a-day practices on February 24th running until March 2nd, when the team will cut its final roster to 25 players. The Wichita Wild would especially like to invite fans to come meet their favorite players as well as newcomers on Tuesday, March 5th at Hartman Arena immediately following practice. Practices will be held at Hartman Arena, Wichita State University (Bombardier Learjet Indoor Practice Facility), and Mustangs Softball Academy Indoor Facility for the duration of the season. Below is a list of scheduled practice times and locations:
Sunday Feb. 24 Mustangs Softball Academy 5:30am - 6:30am & 9:30pm - 11:00pm
Monday Feb. 25 Mustangs Softball Academy 5:30am - 6:30am & 9:30pm - 11:00pm
Tuesday Feb. 26 Mustangs Softball Academy 5:30am - 6:30am & 9:30pm - 11:00pm
Wednesday Feb. 27 Hartman Arena 6:00am - 7:20am & 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Thursday Feb. 28 Hartman Arena 6:00am - 7:20am & 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Friday Mar. 1 Wichita State University 6:00am - 7:20am & 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Saturday Mar. 2 Wichita State University 6:00am - 7:20am
Sunday Mar. 3 No Practice
Monday Mar. 4 Hartman Arena 6:30pm - 8:00pm (Meet & Greet)
Tuesday Mar. 5 Hartman Arena 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Wednesday Mar. 6 Mustangs Softball Academy 9:00pm - 11:00pm
Thursday Mar. 7 Mustangs Softball Academy 9:00pm - 11:00pm
Friday Mar. 8 Collegiate High School 6:30pm - 7:50pm (Walkthrough)

Ultimate Indoor Football League
BJ Jernigan New Lakeland Raiders Defensive Coordinator
The Lakeland Raiders welcome new Defensive Coordinator BJ Jernigan to the organization. Jernigan joined the Raiders during the offseason as the team geared up to make a run at the UIFL Championship in its second season.
Jernigan's journey to coaching in the Ultimate Indoor Football League started with a successful stint playing linebacker and fullback at Thompkins High School in Savannah, GA. It took the better part of a decade for Jernigan to return to football after graduating high school. "My dad was real big on if you want a vehicle you've got to earn it," Coach Jernigan recalls.
"I had a choice. I could play football and ride the bus or I could work and get a vehicle. That's how I was brought up. I had to earn everything; nothing was given to me."
In his late 20"˜s, when he had established himself professionally and financially, B.J. returned to the game he loves.
He played 3 years of Semi-Pro football for the Tampa Cougars at Linebacker. He almost certainly would have continued on in the league but his football career was cut short by a knee injury. At least, his football playing career was. His career in football would continue on for many more years, just in another capacity.
"I knew I wanted to get into coaching so I followed all the outdoor teams around Florida," says Jernigan. He picked up the phone and cold called the coach of the Florida Barracudas. The team brought him in for an interview and hired him on the spot as Defensive Coordinator. His first year he led his players to the #1 defense in the league (Southern States Football League).
Family obligations meant that Jernigan had to work other jobs to provide for his wife and children, but coaching was his passion. "From there on out I was hooked on coaching. I knew I had to be a coach."
After 4 years putting together dominating defenses, Jernigan heard about Mike Mink and his fledgling Gulf Coast Raiders, a professional outdoor football team. "I called Mike and said "˜hey, are you looking for coaches?'" Jernigan remembers. "I said I could take some of the pressure off his shoulders as defensive coordinator." The inaugural pairing of Jernigan and Mink went 9-1 and won the championship in the first year.
"The day after we won the championship, Mike called me and said "˜we're going to go play indoor football down in Osceola.' I said "˜Mike, our guys don't know anything about indoor football' and he said "˜don't worry about it. It will be fun.' I said "˜OK.'"
Together they took a team of outdoor football players into Osceola. It was the first time any of them played or coached indoor football. Some of the guys were wearing cleats, rendering them unable to get any speed or traction on the indoor turf. The resulting score wasn't pretty for Jernigan's team.
Despite the one-sided beating his team took, Jernigan told Coach Mink after that one game, "Mike, you've got to get us into this." He was fascinated by the proximity of the fans. "Everything is right there. The fans can tell what color your eyes are. You can be standing there coaching and be talking to a fan. For me, that is huge because the people get to know you," Jernigan says.
One week later, Jernigan received another phone call from Mink telling him to pack his bags. They were off to coach a team in Montgomery, AL. The team was struggling on and off the field. They had a 1-5 record, a staff in disarray, and no hopes of making the playoffs when Mink and Jernigan arrived. Working with the same player personnel, the pair led the team to six wins in the remaining seven games and made it to the playoffs.
The opponent in the playoffs? That same Osceola team that so brutally introduced Mink and Jernigan to the game of indoor football. The results this time were very different.
After that taste of success, Jernigan took the opportunity to take the head coaching job with the Florida Sting Rays. The experience was not a good one and he chose to resign after seven games rather than continue to battle both the opposing teams and the bureaucracy of the Sting Rays organization.
He spent the next 4 years away from the game of football, building a successful business. Then he came to a Lakeland Raiders game last season - as a mere spectator - and felt the call once again. "I hadn't seen Mike in a few years so I gave him a call, just to say hello. The first words out of his mouth were "˜hey, do you want to coach?'." The bitter taste of his last coaching experience was still fresh in his mouth but he also remembered the enjoyable successful runs he had with Coach Mink in the past. "I said, "˜for you, I'm in.'"
Jernigan is dedicating this season to Coach Mink in honor of the incredible progress he has made from their first experience coaching together. His goal is to bring a championship to Lakeland.
Jernigan moved to Florida in 1990 to help take care of his aging father. He now lives in Wesley Chapel. He feels that meeting the fans is huge since he is not known in Lakeland. "That right there, building relationships with the fans, is so important. If we don't have fans in the stands and we don't have a good team, we're not going to have a good product on the field."
As a veteran of indoor football in general but a newcomer to the UIFL in particular, Jernigan brings a fresh perspective to the Raiders. "The Raiders were a small team last year. I like size and speed," Jernigan explains. "This is a small field. You should be able to have a big guy who can go five, six plays in a row and not get winded."
Asked what he looks for in a player, Jernigan's response is immediate and enthusiastic. "Heart. Non stop. An animal. I don't put up with talking smack or showboating. If you're going to do it you'd better back it up. If you don't back it up you may be on the bench next week."
Jernigan's smash-mouth style and extensive experience should instantly improve an already formidable Raiders team in 2013. The fans first opportunity to see his defense in action will be Saturday March 4th at the Raiders home opener against the Sarasota Thunder.

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