Minor league football could be headed our way

By Heather R. Breaux

August 20, 2008 at 10:59 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

When minor league football coach Ken Austin looks down the 100-yard stretch of a football field he sees more than just the blueprint for a game.

He sees an opportunity to give young men from all walks of life the chance to display athletic ability and build character - a contingency he’d like to bring to St. Charles Parish.

Austin, who has filled the shoes of football coach, player, general manager and team president for over 25 years, is currently working to secure sponsorships for a new River Parishes minor league football team - the Louisiana Stampeders. Without the help of those sponsors, the league will never get off the ground.

“A minor league football team would bring a lot to the parish,” Austin said. “The excitement and professionalism of the game would bring both family entertainment  to audiences and a podium to those who have great athleticism, but have never had the chance to be part of a team.”

Austin, a St. Rose resident, says that he has yet to attain a permanent home football field, but points out that the team will also be comprised of residents from St. John and St. James Parishes.

“We’re looking for ex-players who have a heart for the game of football,” he said. “And who are serious about being part of a team.”

Austin moved to St. Charles Parish in July 2005 and soon realized that there were too many young men in  the area with too much time on their hands.

“I see a void that could be filled with a local minor league football team,” he said. “Minor league football can be used as a tool to help young men to be part of something structured and organized, and give them an option to do something enjoyable.”

Austin also points out that it has been proven that men with the right attitude and ability can move on to the professional ranks.

He refers to Houston Texans long-snapper Brian Pittman, who spent two seasons with the Puget Sounds before signing an NFL contract, and defensive tackle Eric Swann, who never played college football but was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals in the first round of  the 1991 draft from the Bay State Titans minor league football team in Massachusetts.
Austin believes that the River Parishes are ripe for the picking, so he’s busy pitching  ideas to locals and trying to find backers, sponsors  and a place for his team to play.

“There are hundreds of guys who have moved on to other professional teams, and also coaches,” he said. “A lot of those guys were outstanding high school players or college guys that didn’t make it, for whatever reason.”

Austin believes that his non-profit team could be the break a lot of young men have been looking for, as long as they’re a year removed from high school.

And with a successful resume, Austin appears to be the best coach for the Louisiana Stampeders.

In 12 seasons as coach of the Puget Sound Jets, a semipro minor league team out of Washington, Austin won seven Northwest Football League titles with  five undefeated seasons.

His teams also won two National Football Alliance championships and the 2002 American Football Association Championship.

Austin was a four-time Coach of the Year, a two-time National Coach of the Year and, in 2000, was inducted into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame in Sarasota, Fla.
The Louisiana Stampeders will be part of the North American Football League, with play beginning in July 2009. The team would face off with nine other teams in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.

For more information or to become a sponsor, contact Austin at 504-468-3367.




View other articles written By Heather R. Breaux

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