Frisco’s got a new football team! The Frisco Fighters have landed and the Indoor Football League season has begun at Comerica Center. Coach Clint Dolezel won an AFL championship with the Grand Rapids Rampage in 2001 and in 2008, became the first professional quarterback to throw 900 career touchdown passes. Now, he’s leading the Fighters as head coach and talked to us about recruiting and how player skills translate to indoor football.
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[00:59] Coach Dolezel’s Background
[05:59] Arena football rules & differences
[10:25] Adapting to the league
[16:54] Frisco Fighter’s upcoming season
Resources within this episode:
- Frisco Fighters: | Website | Twitter | Instagram @friscofighters
- Indoor Football League: Website | Instagram @/indoorfootballleague | Facebook @IFLIndoorFootballLeague | Twitter @IndoorFL
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to this episode of Hustle & Pro. I’m your host, Kelly Walker. Today, we have Clint Dolezel with us with the Frisco Fighters. So you’ve probably heard them on the radio and some announcements that they are coming to town like I have and you’re probably curious. So today we’re going to, we’re going to solve that and learn what’s going on with the Frisco Fighters, who they are, where they are and how we can go check them out. So, welcome to Hustle & Pro, Clint.
Well, thank you. That’s an awesome name for the show, by the way. That’s a, that’s a good one. That’s good.
Thank you. Thank you. Well, with all the, with all the hustle in sports in this town and all the pro sports in this town, I wanted to combine the two and it’s been a really fun couple of years. Um, we’re in Year 3 of talking to youth athletes, high school athletes, college pro athletes and coaches like you and kind of learning some more journeys and learning some new sports that we don’t always hear about. So, yeah, I’m excited to hear from you, but I want to start with your background before we jump into what the Fighters are, tell me about your sports story.
It’s a long one. Well, I played arena football for 13 years. Uh, actually finished my career in Dallas. Uh, we were the Dallas Desperados. I played my last three years there. It was ’06, ’07, ’08. The league shut down. I was in year 13 and, um, the whole league shut down. So I jumped right into coaching and, um, coached some arena football. Coached may have two. So my 13th season of coaching as well. So 26 years I’ve been in arena football or indoor football, which is the IFL, which is a little bit different than arena football, but pretty much all similar. So it’s all about indoors and, uh, I love it. I’m institutionalized now. We play indoors. There’s no, you don’t have to worry about the rain like we have today. It’s great that you get the air AC pumped up to about 72 and, uh, it’s a fun game.
Yeah. Those variables, are always a factor which probably helps not only for you, um, as a, as a coach, but fans. You know, that’s a big draw too. Um, I mean, we’ve seen in this market, people like the Rangers completely rebuild and, you know, redefine their fan experience because of our weather here in town. So having an indoor facility is a big, big deal.
Oh, it’s huge. Uh, there’s no question about it. We, you know, we, we, we play at a Comerica Center, which is, I guess, used to be called maybe the Pepsi Center or-
Well, no, it was a Dr. Pepper Center. So yeah, so, I mean, I’ve lived here 10 years and I still call it, I call it Comerica. I might be saying it wrong. I don’t know. I think of it as the, uh, Texas Legends, Dallas, and now your home, um, all this little multi-use arena right there off the tollway and it’s neighbors with, you know, our RoughRiders. So we have this cool pocket of all these sports happening.
No, I love it. I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere if we can unpack that thing out and have a rowdy crowd. I mean, what a great home field advantage to be playing in there.
Yeah. My favorite is on those, those cool nights when we go to watch the Legends and then if you’re up in the club and you can look over the back window and see the Stars practicing on the ice, and then you can go watch Jaylee basketball. It’s like, this is fantastic. So yeah, it’s a cool little arena. Um, very, very cool to have that here in Frisco. All right. So you mentioned your time as a player. So you’ve had, you were 13 seasons in as a player. Uh, this is your 13th as a coach. So why indoor football? Like what drew you in for so long?
Well, that’s a pretty good story too in itself. Um, I, um, after college I was, uh, predicted to go anywhere the third six rounds, uh, for the NFL. Um, some quarterbacks fail. I ended up falling back and wasn’t drafted and was ended up being a free agent, uh, with Cleveland Browns. That was probably the worst place I could have went. Um, my agent did not do me a solid on that one, just for the simple fact that they already had a couple of veteran quarterbacks. Their third string was the starting, uh, starting punter. So I wasn’t going to beat him out. So it was just a bad situation. Ended up coming back and I was about to get married. And I ran into Michael Trigg – who was, um, he’s alumni of his East Texas State, where I went, which is Texas A&M Commerce now – at my bachelor party. And he thought I was playing in the world league. And I said, :no, uh, I’m not.” He’s head coach in arena football at the time. And he said, “what, do you want to arena football?” And I was like, “ah, I better talk to my soon-to-be-wife about that.” So I went home and talked to her. She said, “you still want to play?” I go, “yeah, I still want to play.” So they were actually playing exhibition games in Spain. So we got married. Two days later, I flew out for Spain for three weeks and we traveled to Madrid. Zaragoza and I can’t remember the other one. But we only were there for three weeks. I fell in love with it. It was a blast. It’s quarterback’s dream. We throw every down for the most part. So, um, came back and I love it.
You said, “I flew out.” Please tell me you’re brand new bride wasn’t stuck at home.
No, she already had a job. She was working in and no, and that’s the funny thing that, that was our honeymoon. And I was off by myself. That’s why I say what I got the best wife in the world. And together we traveled those 13 years. You know, she’s kind of a nomad too. She loves to pick up and move. We’ve moved. It’s a great story in itself, too. We, in my 13 years of playing, packed up and moved our house 27 times and we have two kids. And so my wife can, can put it down and get it done. She’s a realtor. So seeing houses and sell them and doing it all on her own.
You’ve probably conducted more of your own real estate transactions than most realtors have as a professional transaction. That’s awesome. You probably learned a lot just signing papers and, and looking it that’s great. Okay. You mentioned, uh, arena and you’ve mentioned indoor and that there is a little bit of a difference for people like me who haven’t gotten into this just yet. What, what is the difference that we need to know about, if anything.
Arena football really was not a ton of differences. It’s a 50 yard field. That’s why we play indoors. It’s what we play, where the Legends play. They put a turf down, they put walls up like hockey, except they’re padded in arena football. We have nets at the other end. So we would kick off those nets. You carry them off of it and be returns off of it. So you’d have kickoff returns off the net, uh, big plays, lot of special teams. In the IFL there’s no nets on the other end. So it’s a lot of high kicks. You kind of landed back there and we’d go down and try to tackle them. So a lot of a big returns and discipline too, because they have the ball in their hands quicker because you can’t bounce it off that net, uh, in there. So you have nine foot wide Gulf, a goalpost instead of 18, like in the outdoor game. Builds half as wide, 28 yards instead of a 56, 8 yard endzones. That’s pretty standard. They’re curves. Sometimes, sometimes they’re squared. 8 on 8 instead of 11 on 11. The indoor game AFL special teams is truly a third of the game. You know, they say that in the outdoor game where it’s a third, it’s nothing like, it’s very important. So many on-site kicks so many big returns, so many things that can happen scoring last, making sure all that stuff in this game is prevalent. There’s so many possessions. You can get only so many you can get and you want to score on all of them. So there’s, there’s no, there’s no punting,
So we talked special teams. So much of it as special teams. It’s not punting then your, your kickoff, the time
Either kicking a field goal or you’re going for it. So there’s again, there’s no punting, if you punt it you’re there. Our pump is basically land for a field, go and kick it out of bounds. So they don’t have a good chance to return it. If you’re at your own two yard line, which that means your offense is not very good. That’s what you’re doing. So I’m not going to be happy,
Special teams heavy. And you also talked earlier about quarterbacks, get a lot of action, right? Yeah. Cause you’re throwing, you say you’re throwing,
You got to have a good quarterback. Your trigger man is crucial in the indoor game just because the windows are smaller. Uh, you gotta make quick reads. You gotta have a quick release. Um, yeah, you gotta have a good one back there to make it go. IFL was more of kind of college-esque meaning the zone reads and shotgun and things like that, where football is strictly under center, um, which is rare these days, you see shotgun and everything. So fans can relate to the IFL probably a little bit more. Cause they’re used to seeing it from college and high schools now.
And the, uh, player transitions might work. And I want to talk about players and where you’re pulling them from and stuff in a minute. But, but before that, so you you’ve mentioned the word quick a few times and that’s, what’s going through my head. It seems, it feels like it’d be fast. I’m very fast paced and really exciting. So with all the special teams action and quarterback action, uh, you mentioned 8-v-8. Yeah. So are your, are your special teams players dedicated to being special teams players? They’re not like playing on both sides or anything-
They do play both. We only have 21 man, 21 men going into a game. So everybody has to play a lot of special teams. And one thing I didn’t mention that’s very, very much, the biggest thing is while there’s so much scoring and the indoor game is because in motion, our receivers are running towards the line scrimmage and not lateral. And we have two of them. Instead of in that arena football league, we had one and this one, we have two. So it’s kind of like Canada and arena football combined.
So no lateral motion. And so what so go, they, oh, you can, you can defeats the purpose, you can go cross the line of scrimmage you’re going to,
You want to be running towards it, correct. Not lateral to it. So that starts to 10 yards back and we send him, he takes off. So if a guy runs a four, four, he sits in a four, four when he hits the line of scrimmage for the most part. And he’s putting a lot of pressure on the defense by doing that. You can’t just sit there, squares, DB, and expect a guy running full speed at you to cover him. That’s why there’s so much scoring. Wow.
That’s exciting. That’s cool. Okay. So you’ll love it. So how do you, how do these players adapt to this league? If they’re not coming from already within the league, you got to jump into this at some point, cause they’re all their high school ball and their college ball, or if they played pro ball, they’re not used to this yet. So, so where are these players getting pulled in from what are the age ranges? Like? How are you as a coach looking at these skills and deciding who’s good for you? A lot of questions there.
First of all, we pull from, there’s so many different leagues of indoor football. So you get a lot of retread guys. So if a guy’s a star in one league and we’re probably one of the higher leagues arena football was the top league one time. It was the best. It was like major league baseball. And then you had single lane, AA, AAA teams below it, which now the IFL is the major league. So now there’s a few other leaks around, um, they’re not quite as prevalent as us. We have more teams like we have 12 teams we’re moving to 18 next year. So you find good talent, black. If they’re in North Dakota and they’re really good players, they might not want to live in the cold. You know, they might wanna come down to Frisco where it’s nice. So you, you, you, you start there and you want players that have experienced, but we’re really young.
I mean, you’re going to get anywhere from 21, probably a, maybe a player to that’s over 30, but most of them that 21, 22 to 28, 9 range, fresh out of college possibly. So if you’re getting them there and they’re rookies, now you’ve got to teach them this game. That’s the beauty of, I guess, you know, because they’re coming from colleges that run this style of play, it’s it fits what they do now. Quarterbacks it’s different, totally different because they’ve never seen a guy run towards the line of scrimmage in their life. So they got to get the timing and the quickness and how to pull the trigger faster, which is to me why Kurt Warner did so well. I had my shots in between playing arena football again to the NFL because you make a quick decision. You throw accurate ball that the windows are super tight. So you gotta, you gotta have all that together. And this is a great feeder league. You know, they just trusted
You talk about them being young. Is that their next step? Are they playing here? Do they stay here forever? Or is this a recruiting tool for them to keep going?
You know, with really no football going on right now, besides us and the NFL. I mean, obviously we played at different times for a reason. We can’t compete with them on that level. No one can not in football. Canada’s probably not going to play this year. They’ve already pushed her season back, but more likely going to cancel the spring league, push this league, the XFL is not playing we’re we’re about it right now, as far as playing football. So, you know, you don’t want to miss a year or two as far as the athlete goes because you know, it just, it takes a lot out of you. So you want to get some film as some good film, which is what we’re here for to get guys to move on. I mean, that’s our goal. Now they just come here and, you know, they gotta perform and that’s on them. We feel like we do a good job of, you know, trying to get film out to coaches that we feel I can go to the next level. And you know, I’ve got a lot of ties here. I’m friends with Will McClay. He was my head coach in arena football. So we’re really close. I, and that’s right across the street for us.
So you talk about the different leagues, not playing and with the shutdowns and all these hesitations. Did that make your job easier to find you had more players to pick from, or was it more difficult to get this season going for you?
We did. We, we have a lot more players. It’s talented. The IFL is very talented this year. I mean, because of that roster, they’re really deep, very good talent on there. Allow the XFL players know where to play. Um, so we got a lot of those guys that are local to play for us. So we had a pretty good thing. We felt last year going into that first game before COVID hit and we’ve only brought 11 those players back and we’ve, we filled in with some other really good talents. So we’re going to be, you know, we’re a very good football team.
Timing wise. I understand the opposite season of the NFL for games. We just saw the NFL draft wrap up. Did that affect your final rosters at all? Or is that tied up before that? No, we
Were pretty much done with that. All those guys, you know, at that level that are, if their draft picks, you know, status, their mindset is that right now. So if they don’t, if they didn’t get drafted or they’re not a free agent, they’re right on the cusp, making it, their training just for that probably for the next year or so, the hoping for something, you know, an injury from there for them, somebody to bring them in those types of things, right? So this year there’ll be off and now things start to fall for next year. That’s when we start getting those players year two, that we’re close to being drafted.
So, I mean, hearing you talk about, like you mentioned the XFL and, and arena and indoor and Desperados and this kind of the history of all these different leagues and everything. It’s interesting. I was looked at the ownership of you guys and, um, it seems like, um, with what he, maybe he’s trying to, I don’t know, make a big change, make an impact. I don’t know, come out of the gates, be an owner with, with Frisco. And I think Columbus also and, um, TV rights deals and stuff going, is this like, is there a, is there a shift happening right now? Uh,
We hope so. And it’s in our favor. We think Steve Germain is man, we, we couldn’t ask for a better owner. I mean, he’s, he’s love, he’s been in the game for a long time too. He was part owner of, of Columbus Destroyers back when I was playing, um, he has, his family loves it. They’re a big part of it. He was actually probably going to buy an arena football team when it shut down a couple of years ago. And it was, you know, 20 something million to buy a franchise for arena football, where he could buy several, you know, leagues like that in the IFL, which is what he’s doing. He’s gonna owns us. He’s he’s already owned, I guess it’s the, the team is coming in next year for Columbus. So we’re just pushed back a little bit because of what happened last year.
Okay. So the Columbus team he’s also is a expansion for next year,
Correct, correct. And we own the marketing part of the IFL too. He runs it as well. Um, so we’re, we got our, we got our hands in there and uh, and they’re making a lot of big changes. We’ve got TV deal, which they’re actually paying us, which is rare for indoor football. We’ll always, usually have to, you know, divvy out something to get something, but now you’re actually, we’ve got something. So we’re happy about it. We’re excited about
It. Yeah. It is exciting, um, near in a great market for it. So, okay. Then tell our listeners, you know, I mentioned Columbus a little early. They’re not there yet, but who like, what teams would it be? Are we going to see you guys facing or what, you know, what kinds of parts of the country? And we know that you’re playing at Comerica Center, um, like what’s your kind of timeframe of your season and how can somebody find you
Our first game, our first two games are on the road. We play a May 15th in Spokane that are not allowing any fans yet, which is just awful for our players as far as atmosphere. I mean, we practice in Salana. We, uh, we’ll have a great relationship with their coaches. We have the indoor facility there. It’s unbelievable. It was dead quiet in there. I said, well guys, this is pretty much what you’re going to get next weekend, you know, 15th, that’s our opener. And then we, we, we traveled to, um, travel to Louisville the next weekend and we have a week and then we’d have our home opener after that. So I think it’s the 29th maybe or 28 is I go game to game. So I have no idea dates as far as that goes. So, can people in Frisco see you play all summer.
Yes, we go. We play 14 regular season games. Um, we have seven on the road, seven at home. We, uh, we go all the way through basically August and then we start playoffs in September.
That’s great. That’s a perfect summer schedule for all of the Frisco families who like to get out. I’m assuming it’s family friendly. If you are at sports league here in this town,
It is, if you come, you’re going to love it. If you’ve never been to an indoor game or in a football game, it is fast-paced. If you love football, you will fall in love with it. There’s no dull moments. If you go to the restroom, you miss something.
Well, we’ll be there. My family loves going to all these, um, go and watch all these teams and our son loves flag football and we watch a lot of football. So I know being there in person will be really cool. So I’m looking forward to it. I’ll get out there, um, to y’all’s first home game and check it out and let everybody know. But, uh, Clint, Coach Dolezel, thank you so much for joining us today. You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. Yeah. And we’ll link to, um, the site for Frisco Fighters so you can get the schedule and ticket information there. So thanks everyone for listening to this episode of Hustle & Pro. Remember to subscribe so you can catch us next week.