Fort Wayne Freedom

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Fort Wayne Freedom
FortWayneFreedomCIFL.png
Founded 2003
League Continental Indoor Football League
Team history Fort Wayne Freedom 2003-2006, 2008-2009
Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Arena Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Colors Red, White, & Blue
Owner(s) Bill Fahlsing
Head coach Matt Land
General Manager Brad Harris
Championships 0
Division titles 1 (2005 Midwestern)
Dancers The First Ladies
Mascot Super Sam and Kooka Bird

The Fort Wayne Freedom was a professional indoor football team based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The team was most recently a member of the Continental Indoor Football League, but originally began play in 2003 as an expansion team in the National Indoor Football League known as the Fort Wayne Safari.

The Freedom were the original indoor football team to be based in Fort Wayne. After four years of being the only indoor team in Fort Wayne, the franchise folded and the Fort Wayne Fusion was established as part of the af2 in 2007.

After a failed year in af2, the Freedom came back in 2008 with new ownership and continued through the 2009 season. In 2010, another indoor team, the Fort Wayne FireHawks, replaced the Freedom in the CIFL.

The owner of the second version of the Freedom was Bill Fahlsing. The Freedom played their home games at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Franchise history[edit]

2003[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Result Record
March 22, 2003 vs. Evansville BlueCats W - 41-40 (1-0)
March 29, 2003 vs. Tupelo Fire Ants W - 57-22 (2-0)
April 12, 2003 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds L - 41-54 (2-1)
April 19, 2003 at Tennessee Riverhawks L - 48-65 (2-2)
April 25, 2003 at Ohio Valley Greyhounds L - 42-48 (2-3)
May 3, 2003 vs. Sioux Falls Storm W - 55-19 (3-3)
May 17, 2003 vs. Myrtle Beach Stingrays W - 51-25 (4-3)
May 24, 2003 at Evansville BlueCats W - 62-33 (5-3)
May 30, 2003 at Lacrosse Night Train W - 59-06 (6-3)
June 6, 2003 vs. Tennessee Riverhawks W 74-15 (7-3)
June 14, 2003 at Sioux Falls Storm L 49-52 (7-4)
June 21, 2003 at Myrtle Beach Stingrays L - 41-50 (7-5)
June 26, 2003 at Lexington Horsemen L - 43-59 (7-6)
July 5, 2003 vs. Lexington Horsemen W - 76-62 (8-6)

[1]

2004[edit]

Original logo of the Freedom.

The original Fort Wayne Freedom was a professional indoor football team. They were most recently a member of the United Indoor Football league (UIF), and played their home games at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. In 2004, the Freedom set the single game record for attendance at 10,225.

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Result Record
March 14, 2004 vs. Show-Me Believers W - 66-37 (1-0)
March 20, 2004 vs. Evansville BlueCats W - 80-41 (2-0)
April 3, 2004 at Lexington Horsemen L - 21-49 (2-1)
April 10, 2004 vs. Lexington Horsemen L - 48-51 (2-2)
April 24, 2004 vs. Atlantic City CardSharks W - 63-54 (3-2)
May 1, 2004 at Evansville BlueCats L - 68-71 (3-3)
May 8, 2004 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds W - 43-35 (4-3)
May 15, 2004 at Staten Island Xtreme L - 41-42 (4-4)
May 21, 2004 vs. Staten Island Xtreme W - 56-07 (5-4)
May 28, 2004 at Show-Me Believers W - 49-35 (6-4)
June 5, 2004 at Ohio Valley Greyhounds L - 23-52 (6-5)
June 12, 2004 at Atlantic City CardSharks L - 27-41 (6-6)
June 19, 2004 at Tupelo Fire Ants W - 61-40 (7-6)
June 26, 2004 vs. Carolina Stingrays W - 48-03# (8-6)

# = set single game indoor football attendance record with 10,225 fans.[2]

      • 2004 stats do not include a NIFL playoff games with the Show Me Believers and at Ohio Valley (Wheeling, WV)***

2005[edit]

The 2005 season was the best season in franchise history. This was the first year in the UIF, the team moved to the association, after two years in the NIFL. Finishing a league-best 14-2, and winning the UIF Midwest Division. In the first-round of the UIF playoffs. The Tennessee Valley Raptors upset Freedom 57-22.

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Result Record
March 20, 2005 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds W 29-25 (1-0)
April 10, 2005 at Ohio Valley Greyhounds W 31-20 (2-0)
April 16, 2005 vs. Black Hills Red Dogs W - 59-34 (3-0)
April 23, 2005 at Tupelo Fire Ants W - 51-15 (4-0)
April 30, 2005 at Sioux Falls Storm W - 34-31 (5-0)
May 7, 2005 vs. Sioux City Bandits W - 57-50 (6-0)
May 13, 2005 vs. Peoria Rough Riders W - 52-32 (7-0)
May 21, 2005 at Peoria Rough Riders W - 41-13 (8-0)
May 28, 2005 vs. Tupelo Fire Ants W - 45-20 (9-0)
June 5, 2005 vs. Omaha Beef W - 42-40 (10-0)
June 11, 2005 at Omaha Beef L - 30-33 (10-1)
June 18, 2005 vs. Lexington Horsemen L 41-58 (10-2)
June 25, 2005 at Peoria Rough Riders W - 56-35 (11-2)
July 2, 2005 at Black Hills Red Dogs W - 40-26 (12-2)
July 8, 2005 at Ohio Valley Greyhounds W - 44-34 (13-2)
July 17, 2005 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds W - 41-31 (14-2)

[3]

2006[edit]

As Matt Land left the Freedom to become head coach at Tri-State University in NCAA Division III. The Freedom selected offensive coordinator Dan Pifer to be their new head coach. Pifer would later serve as the offensive coordinator for NCAA Division III Tri-State, later renamed Trine, under former coach Matt Land. He had worked previously as an assistant coach at the University of St. Francis, an NAIA institution, and NCAA Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan. Pifer also was a high school assistant and played quarterback at the University of California in Pennsylvania. After completing its fourth year of football, the assets of the Freedom were sold to Jeremy Golden, who moved the franchise to af2. Meanwhile, leaders with United Indoor Football did find an ownership group (that included investor Bill Bean) that also sought a lease with Randy Brown and the Memorial Coliseum. Brown opted to go with the af2 franchise.

Rumored move to af2[edit]

The team had been heavily rumored to move to af2 for quite some time, and Coffey sold the assets to Golden on November 10, 2006. Golden had already applied for and was awarded an af2 franchise, but because only the assets and not the Freedom's corporate entity were sold, the Fort Wayne Fusion af2 franchise is not a continuation of the UIF team.

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Result Record
March 25, 2006 vs. Sioux City Bandits W - 28-23 (1-0)
April 1, 2006 at Bloomington Extreme W - 51-28 (2-0)
April 8, 2006 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds W - 37-32 (3-0)
April 15, 2006 at Sioux City Bandits L - 27-41 (3-1)
April 22, 2006 vs. Sioux Falls Storm L - 44-47 (3-2)
April 28, 2006 at Lexington Horsemen L - 65-32 (3-3)
May 6, 2006 at Sioux Falls Storm L - 25-44 (3-4)
May 12, 2006 vs. Rock River Raptors L - 36-49 (3-5)
May 20, 2006 vs. Evansville BlueCats L - 31-33 (3-6)
June 3, 2006 at Ohio Valley Greyhounds L - 29-52 (3-7)
June 10, 2006 at Evansville BlueCats L - 37-43 (3-8)
June 17, 2006 at Rock River Raptors L - 27-29 (3-9)
June 24, 2006 vs. Ohio Valley Greyhounds W - 42-40 (4-9)
July 1, 2006 vs. Lexington Horsemen L - 44-70 (4-10)
July 8, 2006 at Omaha Beef L - 13-52 (4-11)

[4]

2008: The return of the Freedom[edit]

In October 2007, the group Fort Wayne Sports Partners owned by Todd Ellis, John Christener and Mike McCaffrey, adopted the name Freedom as a new franchise in 2008. Only the name, and some players from the 2003-2006 teams were associated with the original franchise. .[5] The team also announced that Eddie Brown, who had coached the Fusion the season before, would be the head coach for the Freedom, who would be joining the Continental Indoor Football League.[5] Since the Fusion ownership had failed mid season in 2007, Brown and McCaffrey made majority owner Todd Ellis guaranteed them both that if the team ran into financial trouble they would not be responsible for any of the unpaid bills.[6] The teams poor financial history left every part of owning the franchise more difficult, even as far as ownership of the team's turf.[7] The team's new ownership also showed signs of financial trouble right away, as they were banned from the CIFL in January 2008, for failing to pay league dues.[8] These troubles made Brown and McCaffrey question the ownership, and Ellis fired them both, replacing Brown with Willie Davis Jr. and McCaffrey with himself.[9] The Freedom were able to work out a deal with CIFL Commissioner, Jeff Spitaleri, and paid their $22,500 league fee, which removed the ban and allowed the team to join the CIFL in 2008.[10]

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Home/Away Result
March 21 Miami Valley Silverbacks Home Won 52-48
March 27 Kalamazoo Xplosion Home Lost 34-50
April 4 Rock River Raptors Away Lost 29-64
April 12 Muskegon Thunder Away Lost 33-39
April 19 Rock River Raptors Home Won 55-54
April 26 Marion Mayhem Home Won 55-40
May 2 Miami Valley Silverbacks Away Lost 29-35
May 10 Saginaw Sting Home Lost 21-34
May 17 Chicago Slaughter Away Lost 33-41
May 24 Muskegon Thunder Home Won 42-38
May 31 Chesapeake Tide Away Won 37-31
June 7 Kalamazoo Xplosion Away Lost 32-39

Standings[edit]

2008 Continental Indoor Football League
Team Overall Division
W L T PCT W L T PCT
Great Lakes Conference
East Division
Kalamazoo Xplosion-y 11 1 0 .917 5 1 0 .833
Muskegon Thunder-x 5 7 0 .417 2 2 0 .500
Fort Wayne Freedom 5 7 0 .417 2 4 0 .333
Miami Valley Silverbacks 3 9 0 .250 1 2 0 .333
West Division
Chicago Slaughter-y 8 4 0 .667 3 1 0 .750
Rock River Raptors-x 7 5 0 .583 3 1 0 .750
Milwaukee Bonecrushers 1 11 0 .083 0 4 0 .000
Atlantic Conference
East Division
New England Surge-y 8 3 0 .727 5 1 0 .833
Lehigh Valley Outlawz-x 7 5 0 .583 4 2 0 .667
New Jersey Revolution 3 9 0 .250 2 5 0 .286
Chesapeake Tide 2 10 0 .583 0 2 0 .000
West Division
Rochester Raiders-z 12 0 0 1.000 4 0 0 1.000
Saginaw Sting-y 10 2 0 .833 3 1 0 .750
Marion Mayhem-x 7 5 0 .583 0 2 0 .000
Flint Phantoms 1 11 0 .083 0 4 0 .000

2009[edit]

In September, 2008, the Freedom announced that former Freedom Assistant GM Brad Harris (who was with the original Freedom from 2003–2005) had been hired as GM. Head coach Matt Land also returned for the 2009 to coach the team for the full season.

In 2008, Land, who had been the team's head coach for the 2005 campaign, was asked by team co-owner William Fahlsing to lead the team for the final four games of the season when original head coach Willie Davis, Jr. was fired the morning of the May 17 game against the Chicago Slaughter. With only 15 minutes of practice, Land's second term began with a 41-33 loss to the Slaughter, despite a solid performance by the Freedom defense.

In 2009, the Freedom had success on the field but struggled financially. Toward the end of the 2009 season players were not paid promptly and then not at all. Team Co-owners Bill Fahlsing and Mark Chappius were forced to ask for public support to help get the team through the season. Despite the financial issue with salaries, the players continued to play for the Freedom and won the Eastern Conference Championship over the Marion Mayhem but lost the 2009 CIFL championship game to the Chicago Slaughter.

Schedule[edit]

Date Opponent Home/Away Result
March 21 Marion Mayhem Home Win 46 - 23
March 28 Wheeling Wildcats Away Win 49 - 34
April 4 Marion Mayhem Away Loss 39-33 OT
April 10 Wisconsin Wolfpack Away Loss 38-34
April 18 Chicago Slaughter Home Loss 56-41
April 25 Miami Valley Silverbacks Home Win 33-28
May 1 Rock River Raptors Home Loss 48-46
May 9 Milwaukee Bonecrushers Away Win 51-33
May 16 Miami Valley Silverbacks Away Win 56-28
May 23 Marion Mayhem Home Loss 62-47
May 29 Wheeling Wildcats Away Won 84-42
June 6 Miami Valley Silverbacks Game was canceled
June 20 CIFL EASTERN DIVISION PLAYOFF Marion Mayhem Away Won 49-40
June 27 CIFL CHAMPIONSHIP Chicago Slaughter Away Lost 58-48

Standings[edit]

2009 Continental Indoor Football League
Team Overall Division
W L T PCT W L T PCT
East Division
Marion Mayhem-y 9 3 0 .750 8 1 0 .889
Fort Wayne Freedom-x 6 5 0 .545 5 2 0 .294
Wheeling Wildcats 2 10 0 .167 2 5 0 .286
Miami Valley Silverbacks 0 10 0 .000 0 7 0 .000
West Division
Chicago Slaughter-y 12 0 0 1.000 8 0 0 1.000
Wisconsin Wolfpack-x 7 5 0 .583 4 4 0 .500
Rock River Raptors 7 5 0 .583 3 5 0 .167
Milwaukee Bonecrushers 3 8 0 .273 1 7 0 .167

Fans[edit]

The Freedom Force is the official fan club of the Fort Wayne Freedom.

Notable coaches[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2009 Continental Indoor Football League season.

Name Term Regular Season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Rich Huff 2003-2004 16 12 0 .571 1 1
Matt Land 2005, 2008-2009 22 9 0 .710 1 2
Dan Pifer 2006 4 11 0 .267 0 0
Willie Davis Jr. 2008 3 5 0 .375 0 0

Coaching staff[edit]

Fort Wayne Freedom staff
Front Office
  • Owner – Bill Fahlsing
  • General Manager – Brad Harris
  • Radio Play-by-play - Dean Jackson broadcast 58 games for the Freedom

Head Coach

Offensive Coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator - Dan Pifer
  • Wide Receivers –
  • Offensive Line – Toney Bergman
 

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator - Mike Smith
  • Defensive Line – Troy Abbs
  • Linebackers –
  • Secondary – Donny Caldwell
  • Defensive Coordinator (2009,2010)- Lamar Martin


Statistics and records[edit]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Note: The Finish, Wins, Losses, and Ties columns list regular season results and exclude any postseason play.

League Champions Conference Champions Division Champions Wild Card Berth League Leader
Season Team League Conference Division Regular season Postseason Results
Finish Wins Losses Ties
2003 2003 NIFL Atlantic East 3rd 8 6 0
2004 2004 NIFL Atlantic North 2nd 8 6 0 Won Atlantic Conference 1st Round (Believers) 45-28
Lost Atlantic Conference Quarterfinals (Greyhounds) 35-36
2005 2005 UIF Midwestern 1st 14 2 0 Lost UIF Quarterfinals (Raptors) 22-57
2006 2006 UIF Eastern 4th 4 11 0
2008 2008 CIFL Great Lakes East 3rd 5 7 0
2009 2009 CIFL East 2nd 6 5 0 Won Eastern Finals (Mayhem) 49-40
Lost CIFL Championship Game (Slaughter) 48-58
Totals 45 37 0 All-time regular season record (2003-2009)
2 3 - All-time postseason record (2003-2009)
47 40 0 All-time regular season and postseason record (2003-2009)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Freedom's 2003 Season Stats
  2. ^ Freedom's 2004 Season Stats
  3. ^ Freedom's 2005 Season Stats
  4. ^ Freedom's 2006 Season Stats
  5. ^ a b "Freedom returns to Fort Wayne". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. October 24, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  6. ^ Stacy Clardie (October 25, 2007). "Freedom back - with a catch". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ Rebecca S. Green (December 11, 2007). "Football debts spur turf battle". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ Ben Smith (January 22, 2008). "Another mess for indoor football". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ Stacy Clardie (February 5, 2008). "New coach for new Freedom". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ Stacy Clardie (January 27, 2008). "Indoor league reopens door". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2012.