Behind The Scenes With The Spartans GM
Augustine Dashiell October 01 2010
(BELLEVILLE) – The volatility and stigmatisms attached to minor league football as a viable product makes it difficult for teams to function as businesses and parts of communities. Against all odds, Charmaine Ambrose-Moss accepts the task of representing the New Jersey Spartans Organization to the people of the Belleville vicinity.
“I’m all about the business,” Moss started. “I leave the scouting to our head coach Kevin (Moss). I understand the game of football, but I will never going into the coaching side of it. I ask him what he needs to get the message out to more teams and players. As far as 2011 is concerned we are revamping the way he goes about scouting so he can get more people involved.”
In her position as GM since 2007, Moss saw the need for a makeover after the Spartans received bad press for their part in a near brawl during a game last season.
“With the situation that happened last year, when we had some players that (we felt) weren’t about what we were about, and with us having to try to eliminate those people and make sure we had the right people with us we just had to redo the Spartan organization completely,” Moss said.
Changing the team personnel was difficult, but Moss had a plan in mind.
“The thing about it is in minor league football, you have a lot of people that just want to come out and play football. They don’t feel that they need to fulfill any responsibilities as members of an organization. We had people that felt as if they didn’t have to come to practice and show up on game day and play. We had people that felt they didn’t have to pay their registration fee, and we figured that if they wanted to be a part of the organization, these are the kind of things you need to follow.”
“This year we took a totally different approach with the organization, we chose to put the community first,” Moss said. “We set out to have at least one community event per month along with one fundraiser per month. Being that we changed locations (from Newark to Belleville) we needed to put a lot of awareness out there as to who the New Jersey Spartans are, and what we are trying to do.”
That is the key to Moss, involving your organization to the community. The way to make progress is to let the community know you are there and at the same time make your organization available to the community.
“When we had our player’s orientation in March we told the team that they needed a set number of community service hours before taking the field,” Moss started. “When we put these events out there, it wasn’t mandatory for everyone to participate in each event, but it gave them several options to put their community service hours in, so they had opportunities starting in April until the first week in July to get it in.”
The first community event took place in April when the Spartans usually played in a spring league, but this season the Spartans ran youth football camps three Saturdays during the month.
“The camps were successful, as the first big event we did in Belleville, and it earned us some support from some local families, parents, and the children.”
“They (the community) weren’t open at first, but a lot of it was because they didn’t know minor league football existed, and wanted to know where we (the Spartans) fit in. Are we equal to high school? Are we equal to college? Once they kind understood at what level minor league football fitted in, they opened up and began asking if we could attend different events. We would be invited to more events because the people (players) who came out put in effort in everything they did.Once they arrived at the event, their performance was truly from the heart and wasn’t forced, and the community sensed that.”
Along with the move from Newark to Belleville Moss and the Spartans had to secure a new stadium to call home, as she explained.
“Securing our venue was difficult, because the Belleville Municipal Stadium is a brand new football field and prior to us, no team from outside inquired about using the stadium. There were concerns about dates and what to charge and we went to many town hall meetings. We had to show that we weren’t coming in to use the stadium and then disappear. Our involvement in the community helped, we worked with the high school and Pop Warner football players, we attended the games, we worked in the soup kitchens in the town, and once they sensed our sincerity things opened up.”
Moss also had to try to raise money to ease the financial burden on the players.
“The sponsor situation was interesting, we have some sponsors that have been with us from the beginning, it was just a matter of hey we are moving and they was like whatever you need let us know. We had a marketing director that was supposed to take care of the marketing and sponsors, but she left us early, so we didn’t focus on sponsoring, as we wanted. Our players and cheerleaders picked up the slack by going to their local businesses with booster forms and asked for donations.”
As the players stepped up the management team has to do them right as well.
“We try to keep the guys coming back by reminding them that things will get bigger and better, and we have done that since January. We point out to them that we are not at the top, but we are trying to get there. If they continue to show their commitment, we make sure we supply them with all of their needs along with some of the wants here and there. We can proudly say that we have never asked our players to help pay for refs, or transportation to a game, we pride ourselves on doing what we are supposed to do for the players in the same fashion that we expect them to do as they are supposed to do for us.”
A new addition to the Spartan organization is the “Lady Spartans” a cheer-dance team to add something extra to the organization.
“I wanted to do it last year (form a cheerleading squad) but the person in charge of entertainment couldn’t commit the necessary time for the project. At this year’s owner’s meeting we made a list of things we needed to put in place in order to make our organization successful and he (Coach Moss) suggested it, and I backed him up. I heard from other owners that having cheerleaders can be a headache, but if you get the right people it can be a positive.”
“We try to keep the two separate (the team and the cheerleaders), we have done some joint events, but it’s like two total different worlds.”
New location, new cheer team, new players, and a new league. Mrs. Moss touched on the differences between the BNEFF and the league the Spartans used to play in.
“It was totally different, coming into the BNEFF, I see that we are a part of the league in the RAFL outside of the first initial meeting of the year and paying the registration fee, me as a GM had no further communication with the league period,” Moss started. “In the BNEFF, I’ve spoken to people on a weekly and sometimes daily ever since we paid the league fee. In six of our eight games, we have league representatives at the games and in the other two occasions; we received a phone call before or after the game. I have phone communication with numerous people on the BNEFF staff and another big thing is when I send an email, I always receive a timely response. I can see where the money we spent this year as opposed to last year where we didn’t know what was happening o the league fee.”
In closing, Mrs. Moss added.
“We are working on some things for 2011 and are looking to expand even more in 2012, it much more than football with the Spartans organization, we are trying to make a difference over time. We have a $1000 scholarship for a high school senior, the Cheer/Dance program (which encompasses fitness), and the football camps. We have different ways to reach different types of people.”
To read more about the Spartans, click here to visit the Spartans website.
Article courtesy of plainfieldsportsnews.com