You might think that Sioux Falls would be a strange place for football. You would be wrong. Sioux Falls holds a rich football tradition very dear to its heart.
Sioux Falls' Howard Wood Field was the site for the very first game played by the brand new NFL expansion teams the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys. It was the Vikings first home game against the Cowboys when the Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome was not yet finished in Minneapolis.
High school and college football have always been highly popular sports throughout South Dakota. South Dakota Junior Football calls Sioux Falls its home and has encouraged good sportsmanship and taught Sioux Falls youth fundamental football skills since 1969.
Originally, the Sioux Falls Storm started life as the Sioux Falls Cobras in 2000. In 2001 the team was renamed the Storm. In 2004, the Sioux Falls Storm joined the newly formed United Indoor Football Association (UIF) which started in 2004 with 8 member teams playing indoor football in arenas around the midwest.
The Storm dominated the United Indoor Football Association with four consecutive UIF professional football championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008, creating many long-standing records in the process.
One record that stands to this day (6/28/2012) is that the Storm won 40 consecutive games in a row, the longest winning streak in all of professional sports.
The Intense Football League was a competing but potentially complementing indoor football league that was started in Texas in 2003 which played at different arena venues around the country.
Depending on who you talk to, the Intense Football League either merged with or bought out the United Indoor Football Association in 2008 to create the Indoor Football League. The former UIF member teams formed the United Conference while the former Intense Football League formed the Intense Conference.
This so-called "merger" of the United Indoor Football League and the Intense Football League into the Indoor Football League (aka: The IFL) has not impacted the Sioux Falls Storm completely positively. The IFL is governed by the owners of 6 member teams, many of which have expressed distain and jealousy with the Sioux Falls Storm's dominance of the sport of professional indoor football. The result has been anything but an optimal relationship.
2009 was the inaugral year of the IFL and the league started with 19 teams on its membership roster, absorbing some teams from other leagues around the country. The Storm was looking forward to another season of domination in the newly formed Indoor Football League.
Unfortunately, then management of the Sioux Falls Storm incurred an insurance violation during the 2009 season and the team was penalized by turning 5 recorded wins into losses and barred from participating in the playoffs. Despite the excessively harsh penalty, the Sioux Falls Storm had a winning season.
The Sioux Falls Storm was soon after sold. Todd Tryon emerged as the new owner. Tryon was not only an alumni player with the Cobras/Storm (2000-2004), but was also the Storm wide receivers coach (2005-2008). Todd Tryon is the owner of Tryon Gym, Inc. and We Build Champions, Inc. Todd has exhibited a unique understanding of his team and has gained great respect from the Sioux Falls Storm fans by championing their quest for indoor football supremacy.
The Billings Outlaws, one of the Storm's most formidable UIF opponents (at the time and from previous years), took the first IFL Championship by defeating the RiverCity Rage in the first ever United Bowl.
Before the season even started, it was dubbed the "Season of Redemption" by Storm owner Todd Tryon & head coach Kurtiss Riggs. Fans and players were psyched about the team's potential and prospects.
In 2010, the IFL expanded to 25 teams. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Billings Outlaws home arena was wiped-out by a tornado. The Outlaws had to play their of their home playoff games away from home during the 2010 season. The Storm had a great season, but also fell to the Billings Outlaws, whom had become a thorn in the Storm's side, as well as everyone else's, to become repeat United Bowl Champions despite the turmoil.
However, it definitely was a redeeeming season for the Storm, walking away from the season with the United Conference Championship.
After winning their second United Bowl, instead of rebuilding, many of the Billings Outlaws team players were absorbed into other teams in the IFL. The Sioux Falls Storm aqcuirred a few stand-out players from Billings, including quarterback Chris Dixon.
The 2011 season started with the promise of greatness from the Storm staff and locker room, and it was very clear that they were quite serious from the onset. The Sioux Falls Storm returned to their previous dominating form.
Through-out the 2011 indoor football season the Sioux Falls Storm was managing an undefeated streak until they ran into their arch rivals, the Omaha Beef (only 3 hours down the road), who defeated the Storm in Omaha on the last game of regular season play. However, the Sioux Falls Storm still ended the season with the best record and went on to defeat all comers in the playoffs, including the Intense Conference Champions, the Tri-Cities Fever, at United Bowl III.
2012 has been an extremely exciting season for Sioux Falls Storm fans as the team went undefeated during the regular season.
The Storm heads to the United Conference Championship game this Saturday after an undefeated season without the leadership and expert guidance of their head coach, Kurtiss Riggs, (3-time "Coach of the Year") whom is still banned from the field of play for a second playoff game.
After conducting its own investigation, the Indoor Football League's commission of membership team owners voted 4-2 to suspend head coach Kurtiss Riggs for 3 games the day before going into the IFL's 3 game playoff series, with the third game suspension lifted for good behaviour.
A stiff penalty of $5,000.00 will also be reduced to $2,500.00 for the violation, if there are no subsequent violations.
Although the charge of "Over Compensation" has many experts puzzled, it concerns allowing Storm players the personal use of vehicles.
I must say that I take exception to the IFL's ruling. Since when is pro ball bound by college or amatuer rules? They do realize that the players make a pitance, as they are expected to maintain jobs within the community just to make ends meet, and this is supposedly "pro ball". Yet, the IFL approved an offer to T.O. (Terell Owens) for a muti-million dollar contract and part ownership in the Allen Wranglers? C'MON, MAN!
The IFL obviously don't understand how midwestern communities pull together and help each other out. The whole fiasco smacks of ill will towards the Sioux Falls Storm, and I am not alone in that deduction.
Later that same day, on Friday, June 22nd, things were further frustrated as it was announced that Lorenzo Brown, Storm wide reciever and back-up quarterback, was arrested for some very serious charges concerning the abuse of, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Subsequently, Lorenzo has been suspended indefinitely from the team.
Although I hope for the sake of Mr. Brown and the Storm that the charges against him are unfounded, my primary concern (as well as for the majority of Storm fans) is for the safety of our children and that justice win out. I cannot and will not take sides here, I simply pray for truth, righteousness and justice to prevail.
Amidst all this turmoil, the Storm faces a venerable opponent in the Green Bay Blizzard for the 2012 United Conference Championship this Saturday. Green Bay's head coach, Robert Fuller has just been awarded the IFL Coach of the Year on 6/28/2012 as I write this. Coach Fuller has previously been awarded the Coach of the Year award in 2011 as the Head Coach of the Fairbanks Grizzlies. And just last Tuesday, Fuller received the IFL's Adam Pringle Award which is awarded to "the player or coach who exemplified outstanding service and dedication to their community."
"Green Bay is a well coached and physical team that is peaking at the right time," said Storm Owner & President Todd Tryon. "It will take our best game of the year if we expect the opportunity to defend our title."
Let's hope that Offensive Player of the Year, and just named the IFL MVP of the Year, Chris Dixon is up to the task of continuing to lead the Storm to dominance at home against such a well-coached team without his own head coach, Kurtiss Riggs, whom has previously guided the team well over the years through some very sticky situations.
Nevertheless, despite its claims to the contrary, the IFL continues to snub the Sioux Falls Storm as I write this by failing to mention the Storm's 2011 IFL Championship title honors on its website at http://www.goifl.com/about-the-ifl/history-of-the-ifl even as late as 6/28/2012. This is still happening just as the Storm heads to defend its United Conference Championship against the Green Bay Blizzard this Saturday, 6/30/2012, in order to advance in the playoffs to defend its IFL Championship title in United Bowl IV on 7/14/2012.
In defense of the IFL, the IFL website isn't very well designed nor maintained. They offer a blank page for a media kit, which is a great missed opportunity for viral marketing by such fans as myself that are not as cyber aware as I. But, that just means that the online presence and media relations directors should be fired, not that the constant snubbing of their own World Champions isn't a demonstrated constant within the organization. Perhaps they should hire a web designer with a passion for football such as myself?
Who am I kidding? I'm a Storm fan! The IFL would never want anything to do with me.
The Sioux Falls Storm 2012 Program (freely available at every game).
My Four-peat Champions Sioux Falls Storm sweatshirt (for the years of our UIF championships).
GoIFL.com website - History of the IFL:
GoIFL.com website - IFL Announces MVP and Coach of the Year:
GoIFL.com website - Blizzard at Storm Conference Championship Preview:
Stuff my son knew and shared with me,
& Stuff that I already knew.
For more info, visit the Sioux Falls Storm website, or the IFL website.
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