01/21/2019 1:24 PM -
By Peter Schwartz
When New York Streets owner Corey Galloway ran the Harrisburg Stampede indoor football team, he worked closely with Rick Marsilio who was the team’s Assistant General Manager, Assistant Head Coach, and Offensive Coordinator. Marsilio was on Harrisburg’s staff for eight seasons and along with Galloway were a part of the Stampede’s 2013 AIF National Championship.
Fast forward to a little over a year ago when Galloway was planning to bring Arena Football back to New York. Among all of the preparations he had to go through like finding a league to put a team in and an arena to call home, Galloway needed someone to help construct the roster and put the best possible team on the field.
Galloway needed a Head Coach and there was a very short list of one candidate so he placed a call to Marsilio.
“Corey and I had a conversation and he told me about his dream of basically what he was going to try and do in New York and asked if I would have interest,” recalled Marsilio.
Of course the answer was yes and when Galloway was awarded an expansion franchise for New York in the National Arena League, he hired Marsilio as the Head Coach and Assistant General Manager of the New York Streets which will begin play this April at the Westchester County Center. New York has been without Arena Football since 2008 so being a part of this project has Marsilio all pumped up.
“I’m chomping at the bit,” said Marsilio. “I’m really excited. I think this is a golden opportunity not only for myself, my family and my coaching staff but for the kids that are going to come and most importantly for our fans. Bringing indoor football back to the city I think is going to be huge.”
Marsilio, a native of Hometown, Pennsylvania, brings an extensive resume of Arena Football experience with him to New York. In addition to his time with Harrisburg, the former collegiate quarterback at the University of Akron and Towson State University was the Head Coach of the York Capitals from 2015 to 2016 and then the team moved to Harrisburg and became the Central Penn Capitals.
Marsilio took over as Head Coach nine days before the start of the season and promptly released 22 players and some coaches. He rebuilt the team and led the club to a 10-0 record an an AIF Championship. Being a part of a start up franchise is nothing new to Marsilio as he’s been through that process a few times.
And now he gets to build the New York Streets like an artist would start a painting…with a clean canvas.
“That part makes it exciting,” said Marsilio. “You’re starting from scratch. You’re building a culture. You’re not adopting a team that had a playbook, had a culture, had a policy, a procedure and a way to do things. I think that’s the most exciting part for me with expansion is you can do it the way you want to build it and bring in the kids that you want to bring in and then give them the opportunity to mesh and win some championships.”
Building a football team can be a very challenging proposition whether it’s traditional football or Arena Football, but when it comes to constructing an indoor team, there is an “x” factor that comes into play. It takes a special type of athlete to play Arena Football and when you look back on the history of the game it’s clear that not every football player is suited to play on the fifty yard field.
Not every Arena Football player could play in the NFL but there’s also not a lot of NFL players who could make the transition to play indoors and that is Marsilio’s task…to find the type of ironman players that can play on the smaller field play and play on both sides of the ball.
“That’s a conversation I probably had with every kid that we’re talking to right now about offering a contract, coming to an open tryout or working out for us,” said Marsilio. “There is a huge difference. When it comes to indoor, the game is in a confined area, the walls never lose, and they basically dictate how fast the spacing of the game. When we’re reviewing film, one of the things that I look at and our staff looks at is the speed of the player because every kid that out there running a 4.35 and a 4.4…that’s fantastic for indoor and that’s fantastic speed but if you can’t stop or slow down, you can’t play indoor.”
Since the Streets began operations, they held a player combine at the New York Jets practice facility in Florham Park, New Jersey and willbhold an open tryout for players this Sunday at PACPLEX in Brooklyn, the Streets’ official practice facility. Between signing available free agents, finding players who have completed their collegiate careers, or perhaps discovering a few diamonds in the rough at the open tryouts, Marsilio is hard at work constructing an expansion team but also a squad that can be competitive right from the season opening kickoff.
Marsilio is looking for high character players who are smart and will adapt to the culture that he’s looking to establish with the Streets. He has already declined inquiries from some All-American type talent because they weren’t going to be a good fit in the indoor game. In order to have success in Arena Football, a player not only has to adapt to the smaller field but also has to be able to have versatility.
“We’re looking at kids that are athletic enough that if I bring a wide receiver in and I lose a defensive back in a game, he can go over and flip and play defensive back for me or I can get a defensive back to go over an play receiver,” said Marsilio. “I’ve had quarterbacks that have played linebacker in the past. That is very important and that goes back to the conversation where a kid will call and they’ll say well I only play this position. Well they kind of box themselves in.”
In other words, a player not willing to adapt or is not capable of adapting is not going to be a player for the New York Streets.
The New York area has an extensive history of indoor football with several teams competing in the Arena Football League including the New York Knights, New Jersey Red Dogs/Gladiators, New York CityHawks and the New York Dragons who played eight seasons at the Nassau Coliseum from 2001 to 2008. Local fans will remember the style of play and the high quality of players that competed in the AFL, but things have changed since the Arena Football League shut down for one season in 2009.
Other indoor leagues, like the NAL that the Streets will compete in, have caught up to the AFL.
“We looked hard at playing in the AFL but the NAL, with the parity of athletes that are now playing in both of the leagues, I think they’re interchangeable,” said Marsilio. “The kids are starting to see that and my phone has been ringing off the hook with that type of talent calling to come play. Unless you went to an AFL game ten years ago and watched the talent there, its completely different now because of the parity between our league and the AFL.”
As New York football fans get ready to experience the excitement of Arena Football once again, they can rest easy that the on-field product for the New York Streets is in the capable hands of a man who has lived and breathed Arena Football for quite some time.
In the past, New York area teams have been guided by some quality Arena Football coaches like John Gregory, Todd Shell, the late Larry Kuharich and Weylan Harding. And now, Rich Marsilio joins that list as he is in the process of putting together a team that could bring New York it’s first ever Arena Football Championship.
Welcome to New York Rick!