The South Bend Stampede is a new member of the Cross Roads Football League (CRFL). 2002 marks the first year of what hopes to be a breakout season for the Stampede. Experience is what is going to make this team great and stand in a league of its own. My name is Paul DiGiacomo and I'm one of the owners and general manager of the South Bend Stampede. I would like to take this time and give you a little bit of what got me to this point in my football career.
It all started in 1992 when some guys I went to Olivet College with started talking about a semi-pro football team in the city of Jackson, MI. It caught my interest right away and I decided to check it out. The name of the team was the Jackson Bombers and I came to later find out that the owner of that team was the Offensive Coordinator of Olivet, the college I played football for. My career in college was over so the thought of having an opportunity to play again was very exciting. I spent three years with the Bombers and have memories that will never be forgotten. In 1995 I made the move to play for the Kalamazoo Tornadoes. This was a tough year for me personally because I had to share the role of quarterback with my old Offensive Coordinator from college. I can't complain too much though, the Tornadoes won the Michigan Football League (MFL) title that year and finished second in the nation.
In 1996 I felt like I had to make another move to try and expand and strengthen the MFL. My next home would be in Howe, IN playing for the Indiana Invaders. We were a new team in the league and our reputation spoke for itself. The only problem was that the ownership of the team wasn't strong enough to elevate the team to the level it deserved. I spent two years with the Invaders and decided once again that a move was in my best interest. In 1998 I played for the Michiana Vipers in South Bend. This team had all the potential to be an organization who could have endured the ups and downs, but management once again destroyed the core of the team. It wasn't until 2000 that I would once again get an opportunity to play for a team on the rise. I got that chance with the Elkhart County Grizzlies. I helped turn that organization around from a one win season to an 8-4 season. In 2001 the expectations were high for the Grizzlies to make a run at the FFL title. Unfortunately my season ended in the first contact practice when I suffered an Achilles injury which sidelined me for the entire season. I still wanted to stay involved with the team so I helped out on the offensive side of the ball calling plays. The Grizzlies finished the year 10-1 and lost in the championship game on a questionable call in overtime 7-6.
This brings me to 2002 and my decision to become an owner of a semi-pro football organization. After playing for five different teams in two different states and seeing all that is involved with owning a team, I feel like it is time for me to fulfill a dream of owning my own team and making the major decisions that affect the future of that team. I want to bring the fire back into the South Bend area and elevate the CRFL to a new level. Make no mistakes about it, the South Bend Stampede is for real and the 2002 season is going to be a year to remember.
© 2002 South Bend Stampede