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Keefe hired to be Shock head coach

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    Friday, September 25 2009 1:37 AM EDT2009-09-25 05:37:03 GMT
    (PhotoL KHQ)(PhotoL KHQ)
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  • Spokane Shock

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    Friday, September 25 2009 1:30 AM EDT2009-09-25 05:30:27 GMT
    (Photo: SWX)(Photo: SWX)
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Shack to Spokesman-Review: 'I don't want anybody to think this is what I wanted'

SPOKANE, Wash. - A team spokesman confirmed Wednesday that former player and assistant coach Rob Keefe will replace Adam Shackleford as head coach of the Spokane Shock next season.

The team, which has joined a newly formed league yet to be named, said it would publicly name its new head coach at a press conference Thursday at 3 p.m. (KHQ and SWX will offer live, streaming coverage of the announcement).

Team owner Brady Nelson said the decision to change head coaches had more to do with the future of the team and the league, and less to do with Shackleford or his ability to lead a team.

 story continues below...
 Adam Shackleford coached the Shock for three years, going 49-8 and leading the team to its second af2 championship in four years this past season. (Photo: SWX)

"This is completely that we have the opportunity to get a head coach that's going to take us to the next level," Nelson said.  "What we did in the af2 was great, but we're in a new league now at a new level.  This is about the opportunity we had to get a new coach to take us to a new level."

Nelson said, to his knowledge, Shackleford did not have a job with another team lined up.  His contract with the team ended on September 15 and the team decided not to renew it.  The iconic figure of the team for the past three years, Shackleford had the highest winning percentage of any active af2 coach (86%) and was one of the first head coaches in the league to sign a multi-year deal with a team.

The Spokesman-Review reportedly spoke with Shackleford, who was disappointed by the decision.

"I wanted to be here, I planned on being here and was still working hard, and I was fired," said Shackleford, "I don't want anybody to think this is what I wanted."

 Rob Keefe played for the 2006 Shock team that won the af2 ArenaCup.  After a year in the AFL, he came back in 2009 to be an assistant, coaching the defensive backs and coordinating special teams. (Photo: SWX)
Keefe played on the very first Shock team in 2006.  He helped lead the team in his role as a defensive back to an af2 championship in the team's first year of existence.  He went on to play with Philadelphia of the AFL, which won the Arena Football League championship in 2008.  When the AFL quit operations, he returned to Spokane as an assistant, coaching the defensive backs and coordinating special teams.

With a change in leadership at the coaching level, the Shock are positioning themselves to compete in a new league with new teams and pay scales.  The AFL folded.  As of last week no teams remained committed to the af2, and Nelson said he was committed to taking his team to a new league formed by some teams from both organizations.  Members of the indoor football league are scheduled to meet Monday and Tuesday in Tulsa where they'll collectively announce the name of the league, along with some its members.

Few details of the new league have been announced or discussed in public.  While Nelson said it would be a step up for Spokane, it most definitely would not be an end-all league for players looking to play professionally.

"The pay rate will be higher, but this is not going to be a destination league.  This will be a league where players will come to try to get to the NFL," Nelson said, pointing to the fact that the af2 send four players to the NFL this year. 

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