published Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Generals fill Camp Jordan Arena football opening

Subs are in.

A whole league, in fact.

Management of the Chattanooga Generals indoor football team was introduced Friday morning at a news conference at Camp Jordan Arena in East Ridge. The team is a hastily created American Indoor Football affiliate member that is scheduled to play exhibition games in the facility on April 21, May 19, June 2 and 16 and July 7 against existing AIF teams and be a full-fledged member in 2013.

The president of the Generals is Atlanta businessman Andre White, a former Morehouse College and Canadian Football League quarterback who also owns the AIF's Macon Steel. Partner Richard Ward and general manager Mario Davis -- a Chattanooga native and longtime "best friend" of White -- were among those he introduced, along with coach Tim Freeman, who also heads Chattahoochee Tech's national champion junior college club program in Marietta.

White, who previously had indoor teams in South Carolina and Albany, Ga., said he jumped in quickly when he learned early this week that the UIFL expansion team announced for Camp Jordan in late September did not come through. He found that out in a phone conversation with Stump Martin, East Ridge's recently hired parks and recreation director.

"I called Stump to check on the team here, and when he explained that there wasn't a team here, I said, 'Really?'" White said. "This was one of the markets I was looking to get into two years ago, along with Macon. ... I decided to take advantage of this opportunity now and not wait to see if it was still available next year."

The Tennessee Rail Runners were the last of 10 new franchises announced for this season for the Ultimate Indoor Football League, which had six teams in its inaugural 2011 season. Its assets were sold to a new group, however, and the name and size of the league were streamlined to "UIFL" and 10 teams, and the Rail Runners were among those jettisoned.

The city of East Ridge did get $6,000 out of the UIFL deal, according to city manager Tim Gobble. That was the nonrefundable fee for reserving arena use.

And area fans are still getting some of the fast-paced indoor action. Some players already have been pulled in based on Rail Runners tryouts Dec. 10. Those include local residents Gary Orr and Kevin Shipley to vie for the quarterback position. Both were present Friday.

Orr is on his father's coaching staff at Soddy-Daisy High School after going from the Trojans to Austin Peay and starting status with the Governors. His last season there was 2010. Shipley, who went from Sullivan South to the University of Tennessee and was moved "by necessity" from quarterback to tight end, has been in Chattanooga for two years while working at D1 Sports Training as recruiting coordinator and a quarterbacks trainer.

White said Friday that further tryouts will be held March 17 in the Atlanta area and tentatively the next day in Chattanooga.

"My job will be easy," said Davis, a 1987 Brainerd graduate who has lived in Atlanta since 1992. "I'm surrounded by great people."

Rick Butler from Murfreesboro, who worked with the Nashville Kats, and Chattanoogan Clint Spencer share the title of assistant general manager/player personnel director.

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