The fifth season of Gladiators football in Cleveland officially began today with the open of the team's 2013 training camp at MultiPlex at The Word Church in Warrensville Heights. Thirty five players began practice, before the roster gets cut to 28 after one week and then the final 24 the following week. The Gladiators will open the season at home, hosting Spokane on Sunday, March 24th at 1:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. The team has announced that all kids age 14 and under will be able to attend the opener for free.
Head coach Steve Thonn returns to the Gladiators sideline for his fourth season in 2013, after leading the team to an 8-10 record last year.
Fans will recognize several players returning from last season, among which Dominick Goodman is the most notable. The wide receiver is entering his third season with the Gladiators and in the AFL. He led the team in both receptions and receiving yards the past two seasons and was named Second Team All-Arena in 2012.
The majority of the players taking the field to start 2013 are new to the Gladiators, including former NFL player and Glenville High School graduate, Pierre Woods. Today marked Woods' return to football since his NFL career ended following the 2010 season. The University of Michigan alum played for the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2010 before finishing the 2010 season, and his career, with the Buffalo Bills.
There are two new quarterbacks reporting to camp; Brian Zbydniewski and Chris Dieker. Zybydniewski is entering his fourth season in the AFL, having played previously for New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Spokane. He has recorded a total of 3,009 yards and 59 touchdowns over the past three years. This season will be Dieker's second in the AFL, after spending 2012 in Iowa, where he threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
When the Gladiators open the season at The Q on March 24th, all kids age 14 and under will be able to come to the game for free. For every one adult ticket purchased, two kids tickets will be free of charge. In addition, with the "Fun, Food and Football" ticket offer, for every ticket purchased for the home opener, $5 in loaded ticket value – which can be used for concessions or merchandise at The Q - will be added per ticket for free.