Published April 12, 2013
Roc City Thunder Storms RIT
Football comes to the Brick City.
Alton Jones (#4) of the Roc City Thunder tackles a Buffalo Celtics player.
Griffin Moores

Over the past few years, Rochester has been unlucky when it comes to the sport of football. But when a pair of determined men put their heads together in fall 2011, the Roc City Thunder Arena Football team was on its way to becoming a new staple of Rochester and RIT culture.

Roc City Thunder indoor football coach Ron Kurimsky confronts one of his players after a small scuffle broke out during their game against the Buffalo Celtics at the Gordon Field House.
Griffin Moores

Mike Condello, director of community relations and a current player for Roc City Thunder, tells of the birth of the new team. More than a year after Rochester’s previous indoor football team the Rochester Raiders folded, a group was looking to form another team, at that time called The Central New York Stampede. This idea fell through, as well as a majority of the group that put it together. But two remaining members, Eric Spaulding and Jeff Teed, put yet another idea together for the team, which came to be known as the Roc City Thunder. Ex-Rochester Raider Mike Condello jumped on board. With his skill as a graphic designer, he made a logo to represent the new entity.

A young fan wears the helmet of Roc City Thunder linebacker Eric Spaulding after a game against the Buffalo Celtics. The Thunder defeated the Celtics 57-6.
Tom Brenner

First things first: the team needed to find a place to play indoor football. With the sport requiring a field of specific size, the search was on to find the perfect place. The team originally held practices at the ESL Sports Centre now known as Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex until October of 2012. Around this time, Teed came down with a serious illness, and was unable to continue with the team. With him leaving and Spaulding the main funder of the team taking on most of the responsibility, Condello said in a phone interview that, “It started to become clear as months went on that [Teed and Spaulding] weren’t able to handle some the responsibilities of ownership.” But as a team was already being formed, this was no time to drop the ball.

Condello was able to set up an agreement with RIT during all of the chaos of the ownership transition. Condello said that RIT’s Gordon Field House was chosen for two reasons: because of the size of the arena, mostly due to the large fan base of about 3,000 that indoor football attracts, and RIT’s beautiful facilities. Hopefully, the arrangement will be as beneficial to RIT as it is to the new team. “RIT doesn’t have any football on campus, so we would love for this to become ‘RIT football’, so to speak,” Condello said.

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