Answering the call for football

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Danielson - posted Tue., Jul. 26, 2011
The Green Valley Blackhawks run an offensive play. Photos by D. Coffey.
The Green Valley Blackhawks run an offensive play. Photos by D. Coffey.

On July 21, still under a sweltering sun at 6 p.m., 34 young men practiced football plays in the field beside Ellis Tech School in Danielson. Wearing shorts, t-shirts and helmets, the players ran offensive plays under the watchful eye of head coach Bill Nash. The whistle blew sharply and Nash took his quarterback aside to talk about a play. Back to the line they went, and when the wide receiver went out for a pass, it came sailing into his arms for a neat gain.

Nash is the head coach of the Green Valley Blackhawks, a team in the New England Football League. The NEFL is recognized as an amateur organization by the governing authority for athletics for all four-year colleges, according to Nash.

“We are a single A team,” said Nash, “Our goal is to bring this organization to the triple A level, which is the big premier level in our league.”

Nash is one of four investors in the GVBH. He has coached men's and women's professional football teams over his 10-year career. The players whom he now coaches come from East Hartford, Plainfield, Killingly, Sterling and Thompson. Some hail from Webster and New London and Bristol. They are local players, young men from the community, said Nash.

“I mean no insult, but this is not a beer league or your typical Wednesday night softball league,” Nash said. “It's one of the premier leagues in the country for men's minor league football. This is good quality football done at a high level, coaching-wise and referee-wise and organizational-wise. These are kids in your community. These are not kids we brought in from Boston or Providence. They grew up here.”

A crowd of more than 325 showed up to watch the Blackhawks win their season opener against the Vermont Rampage on July 16. The GVBH won the game handily 33-0. The Rampage was one of the teams picked to be in the running for this year's championship, according to Nash. “I hope we sent a statement. We could be the dark horse. I'd be happy if we were the underdog every game.”

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