The Legends Football League, formally known as the Lingerie Football League, announced on Monday that Ray Norell, despite leading the Steam to a division title in the inaugural season of the franchise, would not return as the head coach of the Atlanta Steam for the upcoming season. When contacted for comment, Norell seemed surprised by the decision and said he had not spoken directly with anyone from the league. He was notified of the coaching changes via email.
League CEO Mitchell Mortaza released a statement to the team on the move that also named the new head coach:
We have chosen to take a different direction in relation to coaching and have parted ways with Coach Norell. We continue to have great respect for Coach Norell and wish him nothing but the absolute best. The LFL has hired on Dane Robinson who will be the Head Coach, effective immediately. Coach Robinson proved himself last year and is someone that can build a great culture on and off the field, especially in the locker room where there were a lot of issues which hurt your chances on the field. There will be a considerable change in the roster as the overall consensus was that there was little to no commitment off the field and several major issues inside the locker room in 2013. We are committed to the city of Atlanta and its great fan base; we want to insure they have the best possible franchise from coaching to players. Coach Robinson will be calling a team meeting shortly to outline his strategy and program moving into the 2014 season. Unless you are 100% committed to Team, City and Sport, please do not waste your coaches, league or teammates time.
Robinson was part of the coaching staff last season, and is familiar with the players. In his statement to the team Robinson said that “I have accepted the position of head coach of the Atlanta Steam. This is a new challenge I have embraced and I will give my absolute best day in and day out to create a championship caliber team.” His statement continued “This is a new beginning for our franchise and we WILL NOT dwell on the past and the only concern will always be in a forward direction. My focus is clear and so will ours as a team.”
The first team meeting and practice with Robinson as head coach will be Thursday night.
Also returning from last season’s coaching staff will be Mark White.
Running back Nasira Johnson may have summed it up best with her statement:
“I have the utmost respect for Coach Ray Norell as a person and a professional; he became a part of my family. The 2013 Atlanta Steam staff laid down an awesome foundation for this team and it's future. However, I understand this is not personal it's business and with one thing in mind (TO WIN IT ALL) we are moving forward. I respect, accept, and trust Coach Dane Robinson and Coach Mark White, and I have no doubt in my mind and heart that they can take us to the next level.”
Attempts to reach out to other players for comment were unsuccessful.
It is the belief of this writer that it was more a failure by the Steam to build a strong community outreach effort than their play on the field that led to this action. The LFL requires all players to spend time in the community to raise awareness and build a fan base, and it was clear last season that the league was dissatisfied with the overall effort and organization by the team in that area.
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