Love of football, service guides Marauders team
FOOTBALL: The Monadnock Marauders semi-pro team, featuring players from all walks of life from all around the region, is gearing up for another season of touchdowns, tackles, and above all else, giving back to the community
The Monadnock Marauders are a semi-professional football team that have been representing the Monadnock region on and off the gridiron since 2002.
“The community service is what has always set the Marauders apart from other teams in the New England Football League,” said new team owner Jimmy Ells.
Community service has long been what the Marauders have hung their helmets on. Participating in community service events and fund raisers is required of all players to remain on the roster. In the past, the team has volunteered at the Keene pumpkin festival and YMCA programs.
“We want people to know that not only are we hard-working guys in our own right, but we work hard to give back to the community as well,” said head coach Jason Woodson.
On May 10, the Marauders will volunteer their time at the Monadnock Area Special Olympics Track Meet held at Keene High school. The team will run stopwatches and hand out medals, according to Woodson.
“We enjoy giving back while spreading our love for football throughout the community,” said Ells.
Ells played for the Marauders for 12 seasons and served on the team’s board of directors before taking ownership of the team this winter.
The Marauder name stems from late member Scott Cote’s love of the Oakland Raiders. “The name, color scheme, and sword-crossing logo of the Marauders are loosely based on the Raiders mystique,” said Ells. Cote lost his battle with cancer in 2010 after serving as founder, general manager, president, and player for the program.
The Marauders are a non-profit organization based out of Keene. “The NEFL is semi professional, but truly an amateur league, nobody gets paid to play,” said Ells.
The Marauders use Alumni Field at Keene High School as their home turf. The program tries to bring in an many players as possible, with numbers on the roster fluctuating from 30 to 45 annually, according Woodson. All ability levels are welcome to join the Marauders.
““Players from all walks of life come together to play the game they love,” said Woodson, a former player himself.
The Marauders compete in the Single-A Maritime League and are in the West division, also consisting of the Southern Vermont Storm, Vermont Ravens, and The Northern Berkshire Kings.
The eight-game regular season begins in late July. The Maritime League is home to 16 teams and four divisions, but only one is crowned champion at the end of the season.
Woodson has been involved with the program for years, but is heading into his first season as head coach. “My goals for this season are to increase the amount of community service that we are involved in as well as to put the best product on the field,” he said.
For now, the Marauders practice on Sundays inside the bubble at Franklin Pierce. On April 22, the team will move outside and practice two days a week, according to Woodson.
“Paying to play football after work, you have to really love it. We’re dealing with working men that also have an itch to play football,” said Woodson.
Despite no big contracts and the risk of injury, the team is tight knit and passionate. Nobody knows this better than Claremont native and offensive and defensive lineman Adam Beaudry, who has been a player since the team’s maiden year in 2002.
“I’ve seen it all, successful years, down years, seen many teammates move on,” he reflected in a recent interview.
“I started playing for the team when I was 23. Now I have a family and go into the season always wanting to stay injury-free,” said Beaudry. “The Marauders is bigger than winning and losing – it’s all about being their for each other as teammates.”
The family feel of the team is a big reason why Beaudry has yet to hang up his cleats, “I never know if I’ll be back playing next year. Everyone asks me as soon as the season ends,” he chuckled.
One Marauder that figures to be with the team for many years to come is 19-year-old Winchester native Cody Whitney. Whitney joined the team last season, playing as a slot receiver and free safety.
“I live, eat, and breathe football. The Marauders team chemistry is great,” said Whitney.
The Marauders community service legacy lives on through young players like Whitney who is very competitive on the field, but has quickly embraced the teams giving back philosophy.
“I enjoy being a part of the community, It’s always a good time knowing you are helping people in need.”