LOCAL

Spring semi-pro football comes to Greencastle

JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot

There's a new team in town. And the Tri-State Storm semi-pro team is ready to give football fans of the Greencastle-Antrim community a dose of gridiron action in the spring.

Now in its second year, Tri-State Storm, which competes in the Atlantic Football Association, has found a home in Greencastle to play its slate of home games for the 2013 season. The squad will host four games on the North Field turf on the athletic complex of the school campus.

"The people here in Greencastle have been very enthusiastic, very friendly and supportive," said Nick Capuano of Shippensburg. Capuano is the president and treasurer of the organization. His wife Marilyn is the vice president. Their son, Andrew, is the head coach.

"We want Greencastle to feel that this is their team."

Although the team will not play its first game in Greencastle until March 16, the Storm has already made the community feel like home. Players have been involved in two book reading days for children at Besore Library and the team participated in the Greencastle Christmas Parade.

Capuano said, "I think it's wrong to have a team come into your community and use your facility and then leave and say goodbye, we'll see you next year. It's not right. We want their help, so we want to help them. It's only fair."

The Capuanos say they are open to working with community groups, including with game day promotions, to assist in any way they can.

A family affair

Andrew Capuano, 28, earned a degree and played football at Shippensburg University. That connection is what drew the family from its New York metropolitan roots to the Cumberland Valley. Andrew, who has coached with various high school football teams in the area, is a social worker in Cumberland County. His parents retired to Shippensburg eight years ago.

"We became familiar with the area and we liked it," related Nick. "The area is very, very nice."

Andrew was an assistant coach of a semi-pro team that folded a few years ago and that's when he asked his parents to back a team. Northern Storm played its first season at Faust Junior High in Chambersburg during 2012.

"The men wanted to play," explained Marilyn. "They play for the love of the game and they needed a place to play."

Nick added, "We have 42 sons besides Andrew. We're a family. We invite them over on holidays. They love my wife's pepperoni bread. This is part of being a team. We care about them as individuals."

Daughter Bethany has also made the move to Shippensburg from New Jersey and is the secretary for the team.

Making the move to Greencastle

With players from Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, the team has practices in Hagerstown. The Capuanos had heard that Greencastle-Antrim had installed a turf field in 2011 and decided that after a year at Faust they would inquire about using the local field.

"We felt that these guys are giving all they have, so we needed to try to help them out and get them a better field," said Nick.

"Plus it's closer for the guys who are from West Virginia and Maryland. I think they appreciate the fact that we are trying to make things better for them."

Vicki Ritchey, athletic director at Greencastle-Antrim School District, said she is open to usage of the athletic complex. Storm will pay $250 per game to use the North Field.

"They are trying to engrain themselves into the community," said Ritchey. "The Capuanos have been nice to work with.

"Originally they inquired about using Kaley Field, but they didn't need all the things it offered. The North Field suited their purposes and we can accommodate that usage."

The Capuanos are grateful for the chance to use the facility.

"Mrs. Ritchey has gone out of her way to help us. We owe her a lot," Nick said.

Football and community

The Capuanos are fostering a close-knit team concept and they hope it shows as the season gets underway. They attend all the practices, which of course are in the winter and held outdoors.

"I've already fixed a broken finger, a broken nose and done a few bandages," said Marilyn, who admits that she is the designated referee in such a famly-oriented venture.

"It's a family-run organization. Hopefully when people come to the games they will feel a family atmosphere."

The Capuanos are out to make the Storm work for both the players and the Greencastle-Antrim community. Admission to the game will be $5. They are willing to work with community groups on fundraising efforts and want to be involved in the community in any way they can.

In fact, Tony's Pizza has already taken the team in by providing a room for weekly chalk talks during the practice season.

"The wins and losses count, but mostly we want to do what we can to help the players however we can because they are our family," said Nick.

"And we feel its important to be part of the community where we're playing. Really, this is their team. I think it's going to work for a long time."

The Storm has a website at www.thenorthernstorm.com

Use of the turf

Ritchey said usage of the field inside the stadium has grown since the turf was installed. There are soccer and field hockey organizations using the North Field and the Greencastle Midget Football Association returned to the complex last fall.

"We definitely have more groups interested," said Ritchey. "I look at the complex as a focal point of the community and we're glad that we can have groups like midget football back on the field there.

"The fields are there and we don't mind them being used. It's nice to have outside groups in too, to generate a cash flow that goes back into the general fund."

Last year the school board adopted facilities use regulations and fee schedule, which are available on the district website.

Tri-State Storm 2013 Schedule A Saturday, March 9, 6:30 p.m. at York Silver Bullets *H Saturday, March 16, 2 p.m. vs The Virginia Chargers *H Saturday, March 23, 2 p.m. vs Franklin County Tigers *H Saturday, April 6, 2 p.m. vs Maryland Bulls A Saturday, April 13, 7 p.m. vs The Virginia Chargers A Saturday, April 20, 1 p.m. vs Franklin County Tigers *H Saturday, April 27, 2 p.m. Newville Mud Dawgs A Saturday, May 4, 1 p.m. at Hanover Rhinos Football *Home games at Greencastle-Antrim High School North Field