Tri-Cities Fever

Shackleford prepared for Fever training camp

KENNEWICK — Adam Shackleford the taxi driver.

For the last two days, Shackleford has been racking up the miles, shuttling players from Spokane to the Tri-Cities. On Sunday night he was making his fourth trip, his last of a long and busy weekend.

"It's just part of the job," the new Tri-Cities Fever coach said.

The next part of his job starts today when the Fever opens training camp with the start of the team's first season in the Indoor Football League just two weeks away.

Shackleford expects to have close to 40 players in town to take their physicals and attend team meetings. On Tuesday, the players will go through light drills before putting on their pads Wednesday for their first full-contact practice.

"I'm excited," Shackleford said. "Everybody that I have seen looks ready to go."

Even with his optimism, Shackleford says this season comes with a different feel. He is in a new league and has never seen the majority of his roster play before. Aside from a handful of players, Shackleford has relied on game tape, highlight films, coaches and agents to assemble his roster.

"We have a lot of potential," he said. "We just need to turn that potential into production."

The players' arrival signals the end of a long offseason for the Fever in which ownership changed hands, the team switched leagues and coaches.

After a second straight disappointing season in the arenafootball2 league, the Fever was on life support. Owner Doug MacGregor said he would fold the team unless some local ownership stepped in to run the team. Teri and J.R. Carr made the last-minute commitment to take over the team that they turned into a national champion in 2005 and playoff team in 2006.

The plan was to put the team in the newly formed Arena Football One league after the af2 dissolved. But that plan hit a snag when several of the other former af2 franchises decided not to join the league or opted out at the last minute. That left the Fever in the league with markets like Phoenix, Chicago, Orlando and Dallas -- a place where Teri Carr knew her team couldn't survive.

So in an effort to keep the Fever in a competitive league, she moved the team into the IFL in November. Pat O'Hara, who coached the team to a 3-8 record last season, signed on to return to the Fever.

But a month later, O'Hara left to coach his home town Orlando Predators of the AF1 league -- now being call the AFL again. The next day Shackleford, was hired as the Fever's fifth coach in the last four years.

Despite being hired just 10 weeks before training camp, Shackleford says now that even if he had six months to sign players, it would not have made a difference.

"I think we got the best players that were out there," he said. "Now we just need to turn them into a team."

NOTE: The Fever signed wide receiver Brandon Copeland over the weekend. In five games for the Fever last season, Copeland caught 41 passes for 406 yards and seven touchdowns.