Jared Frank, SWXRightNow.com
SPOKANE, Wash. - A new league. A new head coach. A bunch of new players. And the first official practice in the books. The Spokane Shock kicked off the 2010 season at their upgraded practice facility in Spokane Valley on Monday.
Head coach Rob Keefe, who landed his first job as a head coach during the offseason, inherits a squad that won the Arena Cup last year as a member of the af2. He'll be coaching some of the players who were there last year - like Ben McCombs and Kevin McCullough - along with a whole host of new faces brought on board over the past several months. Everyone, Keefe said, was brought in to make the Shock better than they were last year.
"I think the should expect great things, I wouldn't want anyone to think anything less of us," said Keefe. "I expect us to be the best we can possibly be. That's the way we've been working for the past seven months. And to have the players we have in here and have the coaches we do, I feel happy about what we have on the first day."
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| The Spokane Shock began practice on Monday in preparation for their April 2 season opener against the Milwaukee Iron. (Photo: SWX)
What was clearly evident on the first day of practice is that this year's team is different that last year's. Many of the players on the team that won the af2 championship have moved on. They've been replaced by bigger, faster and stronger players, many of whom have had experience at either the AFL or NFL levels - or both.
"We had a good team last year as well, so I'm not going to take anything away from those guys," said Ben McCombs, who was a member of last year's team. "The guys here today are good. We have a great bunch of guys. I would have to line those guys up to who's better than who at this point."
"I think that everyone is just that much quicker and bigger," added Keefe. "There are just different levels of football... This is the ultimate funnel system. The best come out, and we're gonna put a great product out on the field."
Keefe's team takes the field for the first time as the "new" Shock on April 2 in the league's season opener against the Milwaukee Iron - a game seen live on SWX-TV.