Try out for Team FLA

Melanice Copeland, general manager of Team FLA of the States Developmental Football League, sits at Fred Cone Park as cheer dancers and players try out for the team.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

Former high school and college football players 18 and older have an opportunity to extend their playing careers with Team FLA of the States Developmental Football League.

Tryouts for the team and cheer dancers will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday and Dec. 15 at Fred Cone Park at 2841 E. University Ave., said Melanice Copeland, general manager of the team. Copeland said there is a one-time fee of $80 for players and $35 for cheer dancers that will cover uniforms, travel and film. Players will have to provide their own helmets and shoulder pads. Copeland said the league is gearing up for its second season, with games being played from February through July.

"We are targeting athletes who are still trying to make it to the top, whether they are straight out of high school and couldn't get into college for whatever reason, or whether they went to college and couldn't get into the NFL or CFL for whatever reason," Copeland said.

She said the league has also received attention from Arena Football League players who want to play in outdoor stadiums.

The league is made up of teams from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Team FLA will play its home games at Union County High School.

"We are playing our home games there because we needed a venue with locker rooms, they have a jumbo tron out there and their stadium is built for the kind of marketing we have to have," Copeland said, adding the team is still trying to fill several sponsorship slots. "It also has seats with backs that we can sell to season ticket holders that will be able to sit in a VIP section of the stadium. Those seats will also come with VIP parking."

Copeland said the team has not secured a practice site yet, adding that the team will practice twice a day on Saturday and Sunday once a site is selected because players on the team live as far away as Pompano Beach and Ft. Myers. She also said a head coach is in the process of being hired from a list of qualified candidates. Though the head coach has not been chosen, the coordinators are already on board. Derrick Ford and Alphonso Rawls, both of Gainesville, will be the offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.

Ford and Rawls said they going to put a quality product on the field.

Ford said he is going to run a spread and pro set offense with a running back and fullback on the field together most of the time, and he said the quarterback is going to have to have one main attribute.

"Smartness. That's it," he said. "If he's smart, he can play."

Rawls said he is looking forward to fielding a defense that will get after opposing offenses.

"We are going to run a 4-3 defense with multiple schemes, and we are going to be a very fast and aggressive defense." Rawls said, adding that Team FLA will be run in a business-like manner. "A lot of times when you say semi-pro, you have that bad stigma of people thinking about guys warming up with their helmets halfway off, with a cigarette in their mouth singing karaoke. That is not what we are trying to bring to the community or anywhere else."

For more information, call 407-408-9861.

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