Phenix City, AL (WRBL) – The Columbus Lions are finally back at training camp getting ready for the 2021 season. Most times training camp is all about getting back shape, but this year there’s some extra excitement in the air.
“It feels like a little kid a Christmas, I know that’s kind of an overused expression but it really does. It’s one of those things where like, the closer it got here the slower the time went,” said quarterback Mason Espinonsa
“To get back in the grove of things, to get around the guys and the camaraderie in the locker room it’s a feeling that we’ve been missing for a long time. To get back is truly amazing,” said wide receiver Antwane Grant.
Even head Lion was a little antsy on the first day of camp.
“I’m not going to lie to you I was nervous all week long. Maybe like the first day in college or something because you don’t know what to expect. But when you get out there it’s football,” said Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson.
Last season around this time the players were stuck in limbo. Many players like Espinosa were trying to workout anyway the could on high school fields, just in case they could play the 2020 season. Eventually the National Arena League decided to cancel the season due to the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Now in 2021, there’s a solid start date for the season and the players say it’s just refreshing to have a goal to aim for.
“It feels like you’re working towards something. You know as opposed to you’re going out there and throwing and hoping you’re playing. There’s something tangible that’s what makes it fun,” said Espinosa.
Another thing that’s normal at Lions training camp is a high level of competition. Coach Gibson wanted the 2021 training camp to be a pressure cooker for the potential Lions.
“If I brought you in I expect you to start. So everybody is getting pushed. Everybody is good. That’s how is supposed to be and that’s what makes you better,” said Coach Gibson.
The Lions ultimate goal is to win an NAL Championship. They’ve missed the drills, and the competition at camp but they really can’t wait to play in front of the fans.
“Almost everyone I know has been to at least has been to one game. So it’s just fun playing in there. It’s fun playing in the Civic Center where you can see the banners. So many championships have been won. It’s a special place,” said Espinosa.
“The fans that I’ve seen so far, everywhere that we go in town everybody loves us. They look at us ‘Oh you guys are with the Columbus Lions, we need tickets.’ You know just to get around the fan base is good. So June 4th come on out,” said Grant.
That game on June 4th will be against the Orlando Predators.