Barnstormers Return Home To Oskaloosa

The Iowa Barnstormers enjoy a meal at Mi Ranchito Sunday evening before their first official meet and greet of the 2014 season.

The Iowa Barnstormers enjoy a meal at Mi Ranchito Sunday evening before their first official meet and greet of the 2014 season.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The winter winds continue to howl, as more snow piles up on the streets, but inside the William Penn Activity Center, the sounds of shoulder-pads and football can once again be heard.

The Iowa Barnstormers have once again traveled an hour southeast of Des Moines to the campus of William Penn University to prepare for their upcoming Arena Football season.

Jeff Lamberti, one of the owners of the Iowa Barnstormers said that they are excited about starting camp once again. The past two years have been challenging at times for the team, but Lamberti says they feel really good about the team they are bringing in. “We have some really good athletes and we have some really high expectations.”

The Areana Football League or AFL will now be televised on both CBS and ESPN during the upcoming season. “We’re kind of bring this product back to the prominence nationally.”

The league expanded this year as well, with the addition of the LA KISS with Gene Simmons as one of the owners of the new franchise. The Barnstormers will have someone they will recognize in the new team as former Iowa Barnstormer quarterback J.J. Raterink will be leading the new team.

“We’re just really looking forward to the season,” said Lamberti. “We’re happy to be back here in Oskaloosa. Everybody treats us really well.”

The PAC has always had great reviews from it’s users, and Lamberti and the Barnstormers are no different, saying it’s the kind of facilities that the team needs. The facility allows the team to “practice hard and come together in a short period of time,” Lamberti added.

John Pettit, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Barnstormers echoed many of Lamberti’s thoughts on the organizations training camp in Oskaloosa. Pettit says that the team was close to breaking out last year, they just didn’t end up with the amount of wins they wanted to have. The Barnstormers lost several games by a slim margin to their competition.

Pettit believes that the foundation was put in place three years ago with the arrival of Coach Mike Hohensee and his team worked on developing a crop of rookies then into what is hoped to be a solid team team now.

Pettit talked about the changes to the quarterback position as well.  Carson Coffman comes to the Barnstormers from the Chicago Rush.

“It’s been a great relationship,” said Pettit said of that bond that has developed between the team and Oskaloosa. “There are so many communities that would die to have the facilities that William Penn has.”

William Penn’s Interim President John Ottoson said that, “We’re very fortunate that, because of our facilities, and our donations, that we have a team like the Barnstormers being able to be here. Because it’s not only good for William Penn, it’s good for the entire community. It takes an entire community to make this work.”

While here, local restaurants and hotels help take care of the team. The team then takes the time to interact with the community, especially its youngest residents. Team members can be found, throughout their training camp, visiting the elementary school to read books and talk to the kids, and also to spend time with many of those kids in a positive atmosphere.

“To meet a professional athlete is a unique experience, and we’re glad to be part of it,” Ottoson said.

The Barnstormers will be making several more stops in the community, some are open to the public. A list of public events is listed below.

If you are interested in seeing the team practice, they start every morning at 8 am in the Penn Activity Center. You can visit the team online at http://www.theiowabarnstormers.com/  for ticket information or merchandise.

Feb. 27: Dinner at Hy-Vee (5 p.m.)
March 2: Dinner at Central Methodist Church (5:30 p.m.)
March 3: Reading at Oskaloosa Christian School (12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.)
March 5: Reading at Oskaloosa Christian School (12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.)
March 5: Dinner at First Assembly of God Church (5 p.m.)
March 6: Reading at Oskaloosa Christian School (12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.)
March 6: Dinner at Boender Farm with Cattleman’s Association (5:30 p.m.)
March 7: Dinner at First Assembly of God Church (5 p.m.)

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