PATERSON, NJ- There were plenty of things that were not at a recent preseason practice of Paterson’s semi-professional football team, the Silk City Sharks. In stifling heat at Baurle Field there were no touchdowns, there were no field goals, there were no extra points. Nor were there any celebratory salsa dances or post scoring, end zone antics. Marching bands, cheerleaders, or fans, were nowhere to be seen.
With the above being said, there were plenty of other things. There were sprints, push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, running in place, and more exercises. There were offensive and defensive drills. And when that fun was finished, running laps served as frosting on the cake. Indeed, there was plenty of sweat, heavy breathing, groaning, and grunting, and more that goes along with a difficult, if not slightly torturous, workout.
In a game which requires much preparation time as well as travel, participants often hurry home from work to attend practices. Any player donning a Shark jersey in the first regular season contest will have earned his fins.
Sharks Head Coach Charles Mills and Assistant Coach Jarod R. Rogers both barked orders and offered words of encouragement during the practice/workout. A show of solidarity concluded the practice as each player gathered in a close circle and lifted arms and fists high in the air, as if celebrating victory.
Coach Charles has made his focus for this season crystal clear.
“We’re trying to win a championship,” Mills told his attentive students, many of whom had taken one knee. “No matter what position you play, you don’t have a job until you earn it.”
“This is offseason preparation. On offense every route has a purpose. This year we are going to be a quicker team. Our offensive line will be better. We will be doing a lot of play-action. We plan on having a lot of short passes and runs. Having 12, 13, or 14 plays in an offensive drive will wear down the opposing team’s defense.”
Mills also stressed that team unity is a must.
“You need to lift each other up,” he admonished. “Don’t put anyone down. If someone messes up, next time he’ll do better.”
Last season, for the first time in nearly 25 years, the city of Paterson hosted a semi-professional football team. The Sharks compete in the 5-Star Football League against teams from various places in New York including Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Long Island, and will play their home games at 7:00 p.m. on Bauerle Field.
With admission costing just $5, team Founder, CEO, and General Manager Mark Fischer believes the games are opportunities for city residents to enjoy family entertainment on Saturday evenings this summer and fall.
The squad features participants with high school experience, some that also played in college, and others with former semi-professional experience.
On Saturday, July 14, the Sharks will host Shark Fest Community Day featuring free food, autographs and photos with the players. Community Day will take place at Baurle Field from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The Sharks home schedule kicks off on July 28 at 7:00 p.m. against the New York Bears.