BOONE — With a much-anticipated press conference welcoming the High Country Grizzlies to Boone last Thursday, it took just one week for the franchise to be dealt a dose of change.
After being a member of the American Indoor Football League for just over three months, the Grizzlies are already being forced to change leagues without playing a single game.
The AIFL announced on Monday that the league will cease operations.
“My main objective in this sport is and has always been to give young men the opportunity to play in a league that showcases their talents in an attempt to advance their careers in football,” said league commissioner and owner, John Morris. “We didn’t have to stop the AIF, but the timing is right as I feel confident that the new Arena Developmental League formed by former league members will carry on the same mission I set out to accomplish over 10 years ago.”
Thankfully for the Grizzlies’ ownership duo, the coaching staff and fans, an alternative plan has already taken shape.
The Grizzlies announced on Thursday that the team will indeed be joining the Arena Developmental League (ADL).
“Excellence is demonstrated by creating a winning culture that succeeds in a high competitive arena. We believe the ADL provide the best platform for us to live up to our potential as an organization,” said majority owner Donald Thompson.
The High Country Grizzlies are not the only team from the now-defunct AIFL to be moving into the ADL. Defending AIFL champions Columbus Lions and the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks are also going to be making the move with the Grizzlies.
“I know they (the ADL) will take care of member teams and be that stepping stone in this great sport. I am proud of the many players and coaches that we have been able to promote over this past decade and I will forever cherish the relationships I have made with the many member teams.” said Morris.
Grizzlies General Manager William Thompson feels like this move will be a good one.
“This affiliation will give our players an opportunity to chase their dreams and gain exposure on a broader scale,” he said.
The Grizzlies will open its inaugural season in March of 2017 with all home games being played at the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State University.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.