Football Team Giving Back to Community
Dakota Digest - 06/26/2012
By Nate Wek
When it comes to sport teams in South Dakota, many have heard about the Storm, Stampede and Pheasants. But there's another team making its way in general conversation. The Sioux Falls Stallions want to make an impact both on and off the field.
The Stallions are a Minor League football team that can be seen easily off of 41st Street in Sioux Falls any Tuesday or Thursday evening at O'Gorman High School's field. The Stallions replace the Lawdawgs franchise that moved after last season to Nebraska. Players who chose to stay behind were left with the desire to play and new owners.
"I moved here from Arizona and didn't want to give up football, Thompson Said."
Marcus Thompson is the head coach and one of three owners.
"I didn't have the chance or the opportunity to go to college so I picked it up playing. I blew my knee out last year and still don't want to be done. I still want to be part of something. I want to build this organization not just to a championship but I want to build the organization itself to something that Storm caliber. Something that everyone in town knows about, that people are excited that there is actual football, Thompson said."
Thompson says he wants the team to build itself on leadership qualities especially when it comes to kids in the Sioux Falls area. Thompson says mentoring is important.
"Some of these men have been through things in their life. You can look up to people. You don't have to take the glorious road to get to where you are going as long as you take the right steps," Thompson said.
The players range in age from 18 years old to some in their mid-thirties. James Augustus is one of the team's veterans. At age 33 he plays strong safety and back-up quarterback.
"I'm not the oldest but I'm definitely up there. So it is a pretty good wide spectrum of age there. We all get along; we all respect each other and what we are trying to do. We are all working for the same goals. So it is easy to get on the same page in that aspect," Augustus said.
The goals include winning, having fun and as co-owner Daryl Halling puts it - being involved in the community is key.
"Off the field, trying to raise money for the shrine is a big thing I would like to accomplish. Last year we didn't necessarily have money to do that with other expenses, but being able to do that and helping out with the community would be huge," Halling said.
Halling played 2 years ago for the Lawdawgs. He plays both offensive and defensive line. The team chose the Shrine as a charity because back up quarter back and strong safety James Augustus is a member of the organization. He says so far the team has donated time and energy instead of money.
"I don't know if you are familiar with too many of the shriner's but a lot of them are in their 50's or older. So having us young guys running around the circus carrying up pops, slushies, popcorn and hotdogs, up and down those stairs in the arena. They really appreciate that so, that is something we really enjoy doing. Again, it is something we do free, we are volunteering our time and it is something we enjoy," Augustus said.
The Stallion's is a non-profit organization. Head Coach Marcus Thompson says the team wants to take its profits and give back to the community. Thompson says the Shriner's Hospital is the biggest give back option for the team.
"We want to be able to build, not just make it game to game. We want to be able to have finance at the end of the year. Give the Shriner's 2-3 grand," Thompson said.
There are many organizations that help the Shriner's in Sioux Falls. Tom Johnson is the Chief of Staff. He says the Stallions are one of the more active groups when it comes to donating their time towards the Shriners.
"For years they have come to our circus and have been butchers in up and down the isles selling the novilties to the folks in the stands. Without those volunteers, that's really what puts us where we are at. Our whole organization is volunteer. There's not one of us who gets paid. We all just work for the common goal to be able to run our facility and be able to put money in our hospital," Johnson said.
Johnson says the Shrine currently has 22 hospitals throughout the nation. He also says it costs roughly two million dollars a day for operating expenses. Johnson says organizations that help with donating their time and money add up quickly and make the Shriner's organization what they are today.
Head Coach Marcus Thompson says the Stallions also help kids in the community. The team donates game tickets to McCrosson boys ranch. Owner and player Daryl Halling says it's important to him to give kids an opportunity to enjoy football. He says he also has other ideas for the youth in the region.
"We have also thought about a free football camp for families that necessarily can't afford to bring their kids to one of the other ones," Halling said.
Making the game of football more affordable to the community is something that's important to the whole team. The Stallions also plan to help with other non-profits by collecting items for the food pantry in exchange for free admission to a game.
For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I'm Nate Wek in Sioux Falls.
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