Proceeds to Benefit Children’s Miracle Network
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) Marshfield will once again have its own semi-professional football team with the formation of the Bandits.
The area’s last semi-professional team was the Marshfield Sharks, which formed in 2012 and folded its second year after the discontinuation of its league.
Jeremie Writz and Scott Van Handel, along with a few other passionate players, are looking to avoid the same fate and help deliver a team that stays true to the heart of the game.
“I brought it up to Scott and I said, you know, we should bring the team back,” said Writz, who played defense for the Sharks. “And we’re like, you know what? Let’s go for it, let’s do it the right way. Let’s do it the way no other team has come about doing it.”
The Sharks headed to the championships in its second season and is still remembered by locals, he said. Now, players are looking to fill the gap.
“There’s nothing in Central Wisconsin for football,” Van Handel noted. “A lot of players want to play.”
The Bandits will begin practices in late October and debut its first season in the Northern Lights Football League in 2020*, which runs its season from early May to July. Players will take to the field in Texas orange and charcoal while butting heads against their competition in a helmet emblazoned with a fierce, hatted skeleton.
Any adult with a passion for football can join the Bandits.
“We just want your average Joe, whether it be the end of your college career, or high school career — or even if you haven’t played football at all and just want to try it out. We want to bring that for everybody,” Writz said. “Who knows, maybe we’ll have the next NFL star come from us. It’s a great feeling.”
“We believe that semi pro football could be much more than what it is and be a valued part of the community,” Van Handel said. “The guys who play, they play it for the love of the game.”
There’ll be no shortage of committed players looking to sign up. “I’ve pretty much got half the Sharks coming out of the woodwork,” noted Writz.
Writz has played semi-pro football for about 13 years and along with Van Handel spent the last season with the Eau Claire-based Northern Lights Cowboys.
Van Handel played six semi-pro football seasons in the past eight years, four with the Fox Valley Force, one with the Wausau Jaguars, and then the Cowboys. He proudly displayed the Cowboys’ 2018 Championship ring on his finger.
“Football has been a big part of my life since I’ve been a kid,” he said. “There’s nothing like that team atmosphere where everyone is fighting for the same goal.”
A key component of the football club will be to give back to the community. While the games will be free to attend, all proceeds from concessions, apparel, and raffles will go toward the Children’s Miracle Network at Marshfield Clinic. The kids themselves could get involved running concessions and participating in the halftime show.
“It gives these kids something to look forward to. If they’re really sick, it gives them hope to get better and to thrive,” said Writz.
Though the first year will be the hardest, Van Handel hopes the formation of the Bandits will be the beginning of a long-term commitment to local football and become a community tradition with high audience turn-out for both the players and the cause.
Meanwhile, the group is undertaking a grassroots fundraising effort to cover the $20-25,000 annual cost for expenses, like field rental and equipment. Players aren’t paid and are responsible for their own transportation and medical expenses. The group is looking for sponsors who can give any amount and has set up a GoFundMe page.
Updates on the team will be posted to its website, MarshfieldBandits.com.
*The team will apply for acceptance into the league in early August.