JERSEY FLIGHT ROSTER HEADS TO CAMP, LOOKING TO SOAR AFTER COVID HIATUS
In a season condensed to a sprint by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, teams across the National Arena League began their training camps this week.
One of those teams is the Jersey Flight, who assembled their roster for camp at Centercourt Club & Sports in Lawrence. The camp and practice facility is just a few short minutes by car from CURE Insurance Arena, where they will open the season in roughly two weeks against the Carolina Cobras.
At the moment however, the focus of the team is squarely on building on-field communication after an extended offseason unlike any other in the league’s brief but growing history.
For Flight General Manager and Head Coach Terry Foster, the start of camp brings with it a palpable sense of excitement for the upcoming Flight season.
“It’s actually starting to really feel like it’s going to happen,” Foster said. “Like you said, it was a little over a year before we could get back into camp, and just having the roster that we have, and getting to see them together, it’s exciting.”
As for what he has emphasized in the early going of camp, Foster said he and his staff are taking a partially “hands off” approach, in order to let the players build their communication organically.
“Really we’re just trying to build some cohesiveness,” Foster said. “Our staff decided that we were going to kind of step back a little bit and kind of let the guys work through some of the things together, get that communication going between them with an understanding that those are the guys that are going to be between those lines […] just making sure that they have that cohesiveness.”
Of course, Foster noted how easy it was to come to that decision, when he has a number of veteran leaders in his camp roster who bring a wealth of professional experience. Some of the many veteran players Foster recognized for their prior work were Sean Daniels, Keith Newell, Warren Smith Jr., Danny Southwick and Dwayne Hollis.
Of the group of players named by Foster, Daniels, Smith Jr. and Hollis all spoke after practice wrapped for the evening earlier this week. And all three were excited to get back in the flow of seasonal action.
Daniels in particular was excited by the possibilities awaiting him and the rest of the team on the gridiron.
“Everybody’s on the same level here,” said, Daniels, a Defensive End. “Nobody’s above anybody, no one has a label yet, no one has a position. We’re all just out here bouncing knowledge off one another. Coaching each other up, getting to know one another, trying to build that chemistry.”
As for the roster filled with veteran talent, Daniels said that having the experience on the field will be crucial to the success of the Flight.
“That’s what it takes to win,” Daniels said. “You need that veteran experience. I came in today, and a former teammate of mine, Dwayne Hollis was just leading the group, coaching them up […] It’s just very exciting to know that I’m going to be out there with a good solid veteran-based group, just like it was in Philly.”
Further back on the defensive side of the ball, Hollis will be working with a cast of new faces on the Flight roster when the season kicks off, an opportunity he relishes.
“We got a good group of young guys that are eager to learn,” said Hollis, a Defensive Back. "[We’re] flying around, having fun. We may not have all the plays down right now, but they’re going to go home, they’re going to learn it and they’re going to get better each day. It’s just an energetic group right now.”
He also mentioned that having the opportunity to become teammates with players he had competed against for years was a welcome change in circumstance.
“You get to get a point of view from just different aspects and different teams,” Hollis said. “I’ve been in the same system [with former Soul head Coach Clint Dolezel] basically my whole career. Now I’m in a different platform […] I kind of always wanted to go see how it felt to play with another group of guys.”
And on the other side of the ball, Smith Jr., a Quarterback, said that he was just as excited as the other players to be in the locker room with the Flight.
“As you look around, there’s a lot of guys that have played a lot of football on this team at different levels, at the highest levels, and have won some championships,” Smith Jr. said. “It’s good to know that there’s some seasoned guys around where we can almost take this team by ourselves and do it. I feel really good about that."
With that being said, he and the rest of the roster won’t be looking past training camp so soon.
“We haven’t played in two years,” he added. “So we may be a little rusty in certain areas of the game […] we’re going to clean it up in the next two weeks, hopefully get ourselves fine tuned and ready to go build an identity, so when we go into week one against Carolina, we put the best show on turf and represent the Flight as we should.”
The Jersey Flight are a professional Arena Football team based in Trenton, New Jersey. The Flight are a proud member of the National Arena League (NAL). Home games are played at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton. The team is owned by New Flight Enterprises, LLC. Follow the team @JerseyFlight on Instagram & Facebook, and @JerseyFlightfFB on Twitter.