So what do you do when you are a Take Five Scholar, and you are no longer eligible to play the sport you have played since you were in third grade? You try out for a local professional sports team, right?
That is what Lance Ramer did this year in hopes of taking his football career to another level. Ramer tried out for the professional arena football team, the Rochester Brigade, in January. The Brigade coach, Mark Saunders ? a play-by-play radio announcer for UR football ? met Ramer last season and invited him to the tryouts this year.
Arena football is a much faster game than the collegiate level and the NFL game because the size of the playing field is cut nearly in half. The game is more offensive and has higher scores than games in the NFL, so it is not uncommon to see scores in the 50s and 60s. So needless to say, the transition from collegiate football to arena football is not an easy one.
“I was nervous trying out,” Ramer said. “There’s a big difference from collegiate level football to the professional level, but I was confident in my abilities and felt good mentally because I trained rigorously for a few months, and improved my strength and agility skills.”
Over 70 players came from across the country to try out for the Brigade, and only six were called back to train for the team. Ramer was one of the few players that caught Saunders’ attention.
“Lance is a natural linebacker on defense, he is very aggressive and has all of the intangibles as a player,” Saunders said. “He is extremely focused and works hard.”
Ramer immediately stood out as a player that could make a positive impact on the team.
“As a football player, he plays hard, he plays fast all of the time, and off the field he is a quality young man, a positive person and has been a good addition to the team,” Saunders said.
Yellowjackets’ coach Mark Kreydt shared the same sentiment.
“Lance understands what successful leadership is, how to deal with adversity in a team setting in a positive way to help a team overcome it,” he said.
Before trying out, Ramer was one of the assistant coaches for the UR football team this season, and he used that opportunity to train for the January tryout.
“I had a really great time coaching, the staff was great and I learned a lot and had the opportunity to teach others,” Ramer said.
“Lance had a great career as a player and did a great job as an assistant coach,” Kreydt said.
Saunders felt that the coaching position helped Ramer to mature.
“It added a dynamic to him where he is a good leader and athletic,” Saunders said.
Saunders sees the Brigade as being competitive in every game this year, and they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. “Lance will play a huge part in the team goals,” he said.
Ramer will play for the Brigade this season, and if the opportunity presents itself, he could have the chance to try out for another professional team in the future. “I’m willing to work for it,” Ramer said, “once you achieve goals you set for yourself, you don’t want to stop.”
“The sky’s the limit for Lance. He’s a great player, and we are fortunate to have a young man of his caliber that will help the team out,” Saunders said.
“Lance could make the next step,” Kreydt said. “He is the type that will exhaust the opportunity until he can’t make it anymore.”Ramer’s family will be in town this weekend to watch their son’s professional debut. His family members are his biggest fans, and they have been by his side since he began playing in third grade. Ramer’s father made 35 of the 37 games his son played for UR.
The Brigade play their home opener this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they take on the New Haven Ninjas at the Community War Memorial at the Blue Cross Arena.
The Brigade have reserved a limited number of tickets for UR students. They cost $8 and can be purchased at the Common Market until 3 p.m. Friday.
If the Common Market is sold out, call Cory at 292-1530 and ask for the tickets reserved for UR students in section 204.