ESCANABA - A football team takes time to develop. The Escanaba Bandits Semi-Pro team of the Northern Lights Football League has seven months.
When the Bandits take the field for the for the first time in May owner and coach Paul Names hopes to have his group ready.
Just over a dozen players gathered at Ludington Park on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon for practice. A core group of the current roster (just over 30 players) has been showing up to each practice, but the team meets twice a week to accommodate work schedules.
"Most of these guys are right here in Esky with a few guys from Gladstone and a couple from Bark River," said Names. "Quite a few played for Escanaba High School, a couple played for Gladstone and we have one on our roster who played quarterback at Lawrence College (in Wisconsin)."
Showing up to practice Saturday was Torry Names, owner and linebacker on the Green Bay Blackjacks. Torry, a fitness expert, gave the team a short informational talk on getting into shape and taking the proper supplements. He stressed nitrous oxide boosters for increasing blood flow and amino acide metabolizers for reducing body fat and helping to increase strength.
The group then got started running spring drills as a group of people set up chairs and watched.
The roster still has plenty of room for expansion and Paul Names prospective players are welcome to try out.
"Just show up. We take it easy on new players. We have a new guy here that's only been here a week and a half so he's not quite in the shape the other guys are in yet, which is fine. We might have you sit out the last run and not do so many of the drills," he said. "It's all about showing up. We'll work with you and get you into shape."
Names added having a full-time job shouldn't be a deterrent.
"We're willing to work with you," he said. "Most guys on the team don't work Wednesday's and the weekend, so they can show up to either the Wednesday or the Saturday practice."
Coach Paul Names can be reached at (906) 280-0461.