2003-03-01 / Sports

Grizzlies Roaring For Opportunity To Play Football

By Elio Velez

Once upon a time, there used to be the Rockaway Grizzlies, a semi-pro football team that existed from 1995 to 1998. When the team folded in 1998, the opportunity for locals to play football was lost. George Castro, Lionel Theophile and Jennifer Blair jumped at the chance to buy the team and possibly starting in March, Rockaway may gets the chance to join it’s own semi-pro football team.

"I play sports and I love football," Jennifer Blair, General Manager And Chief Operating Officer of the Grizzies said. "There is not much to do out here and when my friend Lionel asked me to help in buying a football team, I said yes!"

The Grizzlies, who may play their home games at Beach Channel High School, want to recruit from the more than 100,000 people that reside in the peninsula. For anyone wanting to play football in the two major semi-pro leagues, the United Football League or the Garden State League, people would have had to travel to Brooklyn, Long Island or New Jersey to get the chance to play.

The Grizzlies are looking to play in the Garden State League for the upcoming 2003 season. Teams that are in the league include the Brooklyn Mariners, the great team who won the championship in 2002.

At this point, the organization has not been accepted into the league but the Grizzlies are preparing for the opportunity. In the presentation to the league, the Grizzlies wanted to give people from the Rockaway and the Five Towns the chance to play football. It would also help the community recover from the events of 9-11 and Flight 587.

They have chosen Beach Channel as their home field because most of the personnel and prospective players are high school alumnus. For people who haven’t been contacted, tryouts are tentatively scheduled for March 29 at Beach Channel. The team hopes to have 45 to 55 players.

"I know people around here want to play organized ball and families and friends want to see them play," said Blair.

The permits to play in the high school were secured; The 100th Precinct will provide police presence and there will be a medical staff that will treat any injuries.

On the Board of Directors, the President of the Grizzlies is Wyclef Jean. Jean is the accomplished singer from the Fugees and as a solo artist. He is also a noted producer who has worked with impressive array of pop, R&B, and hip-hop talent, including Whitney Houston, Santana, and Destiny’s Child, among many others.

If the team is accepted, the Grizzlies will waste no chance to become a successful team. "These are people who are dedicated to playing football after working 40 hour work weeks, practicing and playing on the weekends," said Blair. "They are weekend warriors."

For anyone interested in the Rockaway Grizzlies, call CEO Lionel Theophile at 917-992-3958 or GM Jennifer Blair at 718-216-0852. Their website is www.rockawaygrizzlies.com

Grizzlies Hold B-Ball Game

The Grizzlies will raise funds for their team by holding a basketball game between members of the Grizzlies vs. The NYC Hustlers of the United Football League. The All-Star game will be held on March 8, 2003, 1 p.m. at MS 198 on 365 Beach 57 Street. The game will include halftime entertainment and a strongman competition. An after party will also be held and for information, contact Coach Watts at 347-408-6277 or Jennifer Blair at 718-216-0582.

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