By Austin Simpson - Team Writer
The anticipation was palpable as hopefuls for the Tampa Bay Cannons 2019 team warm up in Orlando. The franchise’s second season in their new home looks to be a growing one and players from all parts of the state look to make an impact and get recognition.
A wide array of ages and skill levels were present for the two-day try-out meant to assess various measurables and performance. As players awaited check-in they warmed-up, tossed to each other, or mentally prepared. James Franklin has been readying himself for today. “Training with weight lifting, plyometrics,” he notes helped him prepare. “Studying a lot of film.”
Photo by: Haley Hammond
Many of the weekend’s athletes hoped to demonstrate the explosive skill and “coachability” that they knew would help them make a roster. “We are building that depth,” says head coach Andrew Roca lamenting the loss of some key players before last season.
Indeed, the franchise is looking to grow. As the Cannons have looked to new recruits, and their Combine, as a means of bolstering the roster and attracting talent in the near future. As the athletes of diverse age ranges and experience backgrounds grind through drills on the field, Roca notes what he is looking for in the newbies. “We are looking for people who can fail” Roca says, “and can recover from that failure.”
But failure wasn’t on the minds of the hopefuls. As the day progressed, athletes rotated through stations of various athletic competencies. The hopefuls were keen to show off their vertical jump at the jump tester and their acceleration speed with a clocked forty. When asked, Larz Hanselman said he was pleased with his performance. “I feel pretty good” he remarks walking away from a station and consulting his score chart. Regarding how he plans to contribute to the team should he make cut, he said sternly “In any way I can.”
Players know that these measurements are important in gauging performance, but little can substitute in-game play.
As players were divided into teams for the scrimmage, sights were set on honing personal skill sets toward improvised success. Quickly creating a rhythm with new players is no easy task, but some players were up to the challenge.
The scrimmage on Saturday starts off as one would expect; big throws and fast-paced cuts identify some athletic stand-outs early. Each Combine attendee looks to make the most of their time on the field. Several players, including Franklin, are involved in scoring and assisting for their respective teams early and the bar is raised even higher for their peers.
High bars are something of a theme this season. With a new guiding mission statement, Roca is looking to up the “professionalism” of the team and “move away from their college mentalities.” A tall order for a state known for its fierce rivalries and aggressive style.
“Its not just another Frisbee team.” He notes, looking to convey the need for realignment of player priorities. “If you fail faster, you learn faster.” He says, eager to dig the Cannons out of the lower standings in their division.
Whatever is in store for the Cannons this season, success or failure, let’s hope the Cannons remain fast learners and grow as a team. “It all starts today.” Roca says taking to the sidelines to watch the scrimmage.