By Yijing Shen, Distribution Manager
The West Virginia Roughriders, a professional indoor football team, played two years at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va. The owner and General Manager Gregg Fornario announced their relocation last month.
Despite matching the time when Hilltoppers traveled away to beat Concord University, having tryouts at WLU is also a great opportunity for the West Virginia Roughriders to introduce the team to the community.
“West Liberty University is a known school with great facilities. They were easy to work with, and the timing worked out,” said Jesse Heninger, Director of Marketing and Operations. “It is a great introduction to universities and students. We would love to get involved with the universities in this area and get our brand to them. We will soon be working with them. As far as community stuff, we’d love to get involved in as well as some intramural sports.”
The team is looking for local athletes in the area as well as student athletes from the local universities. A good variety of local universities such as Fairmont State University, West Virginia Northern Community College, Bethany College and WLU shown up for the tryouts.
“The Roughriders would bring some talents from Richmond, but for the most part, we will be signing some individuals and housing them,” said Heninger, “Also, we are looking for local athletes in the area. Because arena football in this level is about 60 percent housed, 40 percent local talent. There are lots of opportunities for the players to make the team and play on the high level.”
Feeling the enthusiasm of the area, the team is excited about moving to Wheeling and hoping for a fresh start.
“Wheeling is great. The city is very welcoming, WesBanco and Dennis Magruder (General Manager of WesBanco Arena) was very welcoming, and the formula was right. Everybody is excited to have us; we are excited to be here too. The arena is fresh again, we are excited to provide arena football back in Wheeling, [I think it] is a huge deal,” said Heninger.
With the winning of the Arena Pro Football Championship in 2017 and the semifinalist of American Arena League (AAL) in 2018, the West Virginia Roughriders will play in the Professional Arena Football (PAF) in the coming spring.
Photo Credit: Yijing Shen