Gridiron Dreams

Henry County-based semi-pro football team gaining attention

Many players are being watched by NFL scouts

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (August 2015) – May through August may not be the normal time you think of watching a football game, but during those few short months, Kentucky Storm is hard at work. This semi-pro football team tackles the turf in an effort to get noticed by the big dogs.
“Kentucky Storm is a semi-pro summer league team and a member of the Kentucky Football League,” said Manda Gingrich, board president for Kentucky Storm. “They’ve been in existence for about three years.”

Photo provided

Members of Kentucky Storm semi-pro football team watch the action from the sidelines at a recent game.

The thing that makes them different is that they “are a brotherhood,” she said. “Most have families, are fathers, have jobs. There are no ego issues,” as the entire team works together in an effort to bring out the best in each other.
Many of the members are from Henry County, Ky., and surrounding counties such as Shelby, Jefferson and Carroll, but “one member drives from near the Tennessee border for practice and games,” said Gingrich.
To be a member of Kentucky Storm, players have to be at least 18 years old. “Our oldest player is in his early 30s,” she said. Most are high school or college age.
There are no try-outs to go through to become a part of the team. Once the team is full, hopefully, anyone who didn’t make it “will find another semi-pro team to play for,” Gingrich said.
There are currently 35 players on the roster, said coach Richard Smith. “It’s a job for them to juggle work and personal schedules.”
Smith, originally from Mt. Washington, Ky., played for Anderson University. He has spent 23 years coaching players at Henry County High School, Eminence Middle School, Eminence High School and even a women’s professional football team.
He became involved with Kentucky Storm when a friend who owns Derby City Thunder, a Louisville-based semi-pro football team that began in 2004, asked him to be a part of the franchise in this area.
Smith and his wife, Tammy, co-own the team. “It’s something we can do together,” he said. “It was an opportunity for her and me both.”
So far this season, the team ranks 3 in 4. “We got off to a pretty good start,” said Smith, “but couldn’t hold up the momentum.” A lack of practice time makes it difficult to come out on top at each game.
Players squeeze in two hours of practice time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Games are played on Saturdays. Home games are played at the Henry County Recreation and Service Park, 488 Park Rd., north of the Henry County Courthouse on Hwy 55.
“We’ve got some talent,” Smith concedes. Ten regular games are played, and Kentucky Storm players hope to make it to the championship games before their season ends. They have two more games in August – Aug. 1 at the Indiana Bucks and Aug. 8 at the Indiana Trybe. Then they will compete in the playoffs.
The team is dedicated to presenting a family oriented, entertaining sporting experience. By showcasing their talents, players say they hope to get noticed by colleges, NFL, CFL and AFL teams. Three-year veteran players include Timmy Gay and Tyrone Cooper.
By being non-paid players, they have eligibility, said Smith. “We try to help them get a foot in the door.”
Former Kentucky Storm players include Jordan Tennyson, who attended the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. He played one season for the Kentucky Xtreme Professional Indoor Arena Football team in the CIFL. Tennyson graduated in 2009 from Louisville’s Central High School.
Players are usually recruited by word of mouth. “We seek out players,” said Gingrich, who was asked to be on the board after attending some of the Kentucky Storm games. She knew Smith previously because he had coached her son when he played football in the seventh or eighth grade.
“By being a summer league, we have the advantage of having them all through the winter. It doesn’t interfere with college or other practices.”
As their coach, there are several things Smith said he would like to see the team accomplish. “I’d like to see them mature and gel as a team,” he said.
He often sees the players as opponents in high school games, but then become teammates once they join the Kentucky Storm roster. He likes to see families rooting for each other and players that were previously opponents.

• For more information on Kentucky Storm, visit www.KentuckyStormFootball.com.

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