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Joyce Endee

Berlin Football sees the light of day

August 26, 2012
BERLIN — It has been exactly 30 years since Berlin boasted its own football team, 1982, and thanks to a community effort headed by Jesse Arsenault the forgotten sports club is back in action.

The North Country can say hello to the Berlin Gladiators part of the Independent Football League of New England. The team sports the classic Berlin colors of red, white and black and the choice of mascot was due to a football player being the modern day gladiators/warrior, said Jesse. "We train these kids to be professional and good sportsmen yet they have a job to do. It's a vicious game, but these kids love it. It really builds strong character and morals."

Berlin Public Works Director Mike Perreault acquired permission for the Gladiators to practice on Annex Field off of River Street. The Eagles Club also donated the use of their field on East Milan Road for games and Cross Machine donated time as well as metal to build field goal posts. Credit also goes to local auto body shop owner Paul Lamoureux who sanded and painted 36 helmets for free. The person that was the catalyst for starting the Berlin Football Association, Jesse noted, were Mike Doolan of Littleton.

Mike and Ralph Doolan helped start up the Mt. Washington Wolves and Littleton Crusader football teams which are currently not in operation.

"When I heard Littleton wasn't having a team this year I called them up and they were generous enough to either lend us or sell for a cheap price all the football equipment which saves us thousands of dollars," said Jesse. "So that's when I took initiative, started making phone calls and holding fundraisers. I basically dedicated my whole summer to this and we were able to raise $4,000."

It was only recently announced that the Wolves, whom the Gladiators were scheduled to play this season, weren't able to come up with the numbers to form a team. About seven of the Wolves joined the Gladiators making their roster over 30 strong. For Jesse recruiting was never a problem.

"Social networking is the trick nowadays to recruiting and once we got our base 15 they went out and told all of their friends about it and kids started flocking in," said Jesse.

Currently the team staff includes Gary Melanson as defensive coordinator/interim head coach, Josh Bunnell offensive coordinator, Doolan equipment manager and line coach, Steve Dumas as team dad and Jesse as game coordinator. The team's head coach will be Jon Reynolds of Illinois who is still in the process of moving to Berlin to work at the Federal Prison. The Berlin Football Association's Board of Directors includes Jesse (president), Steve Enman, Renney Morneau, Marc Tilton and Keith Enman.

All of the coaching staff and board members are volunteers.

Jesse leaves the Gladiators in good hands as he will be part time military and full time student at University of New Hampshire this fall. Jesse also has high hopes of playing football at UNH. After sending in sent in his game film and received a tryout call to strut his stuff on September 2.

"People thought there wouldn't be enough room in this town for soccer and football, but out of all our players only two were from the soccer team," said Jesse. "This town has a big need for the sport of football and a big want for it as well."

The Gladiator's season schedule can be viewed at www.iflne.com and interested parties can send donations to Berlin Football Assn. P.O. Box 163 Berlin, NH. 03570.

Jesse added that anyone that does donate can get a tax return as the Association is registered with NH as a nonprofit organization.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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Varney Smith
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