FAIRHOPE, Ala. – Watch the weather! There’s a new energetic system rolling in, but it’s no tropical depression. It’s the Fairhope Storm semi-pro football team and players, coaches and fans are excited to get started.
“We started this 13 months ago,” said head coach Fred Riley. “My wife Susan and I along with commissioner Tracey Rico made that commitment. We have a full dance team, featured twirler and it’s all volunteer. After looking into other initial franchises, we found the league that had what we wanted in the IAFL (Independent American Football League).
“Our motto is #burntheships,” he said. “We want to lead and empower people in our organization to look forward and "Burn the Ships" of their past. To lead a life of service and hero-level leadership in their families and communities.”
Riley said the expression represents a call to duty as well as a team motto.
“So, this is a ministry. And by saying, ‘Burn the ships!’ I mean we want all these young people to forget all the things that have weighed them down in the past and make a new start.
“We are a semi-professional football franchise founded to impact young men and help them become better husbands, fathers and contributors to their respective communities. We’re charting a new course and this team is like a new ship we are all going to sail together.”
There are 34 teams in the league with eight divisions. The Storm will be in the Yellowhammer Division with the Alabama Rams, the Alabama Steel, the Sabers and the Wolfpack. The Storm plays each twice and the head-to-head division winner advances with a possible wildcard to be determined.
“We have had a chance to watch film on our first opponent the Rams who we play at Childersburg in the Kick-Off Classic (Feb. 22).”
Riley said the Storm name was submitted by longtime Fairhoper Erik Cortinas who won the naming competition. Riley will be assisted by Ryan Morrisette (defensive line), Al Earnest (Assistant head coach and offensive line), Edwin Frazier (Defensive coordinator and DBs), Jarrell Smith (Receivers), Bryan Dailey (Outside linebackers) and Charlie Agee (Special teams and linebackers).
The first home game at Fairhope Municipal Stadium on W. C. Majors Field is set for Feb. 29.
“We are having some fun giveaways that day to celebrate that game on Leap Day (Feb. 29),” he said. “The first four people who can prove they were born on Feb. 29 with proper ID will receive $29 gift cards from local merchants. We’re excited about getting to where we are about to play.”
The average age on the 43-player roster is 27 years. Storm quarterback Quincy Durgin of Fairhope was one of the first players to join the team. He also played in Englewood, Cal. and Mobile where he played semi-pro ball before signing with the Storm.
“I’m very excited,” Durgin said. “This is good bunch of guys, great franchise and some really great players, too. We’re looking forward to putting a bunch of points on the board. We’ve got plenty of speed on offense in Ramero Perdue (Daphne) and C.J. Edwards (Fairhope). They run hard and fast and I really like the size and strength of our big bodies on the offensive line like Purnell (Green). We also have a lot of aggressiveness on defense.”
Purnell Green out of Foley will be one of those big guys (6-5, 290) protecting Durgin and blocking in the run game at guard.
“I think we’re ready,” he said. “We have big bodies on the line and some good plays in the books and good talent to execute. Looking forward to getting started.”
Austin Lindsey out of Gardendale and K.J. Minnefield out of Daphne are also expected to be key players on both side of the ball, Riley said. Most of the players are from Baldwin County having played at Baldwin County High, Daphne, Gulf Shores, Fairhope, Foley, Robertsdale and Spanish Fort.He said several will probably play both ways often out of their 43-man roster.
The dance team, the Storm Troopers, will be led by choreographer Joni Wofford and coordinator Kay Spence who along with feature twirler Mallory Reynier will provide sideline and halftime spirit.
Riley added his thanks to those who helped make the team a reality.
“I just want to thank the City of Fairhope and Mayor (Karin) Wilson who immediately got on board with this, Parks and Rec Director Pat White for all his tremendous help with the fields, Jim Boothe Contracting as our platinum sponsor for this first season. And I think their support led to our many other donors and official sponsors joining in. Together that allows us to go into our first season with no debt. So, we hope the fans will come out and support us at the gate and in the stands. And we certainly thank those folks in advance and hope they keep coming out for us.”
Tickets per person for the home games are $10 adults, 12-years and under are $5. To see the remaining schedule, full roster, coaching staff, support staff and more, visit FairhopeStorm.com.