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Riptide Hire Five-Time Arena Bowl Champion George LaFrance as General Manager

Keith Antigiovanni
Thursday May 2, 2002

After a 1-3 start the San Diego Riptide hired former Detroit Drive and Tampa Bay Storm George LaFrance as the club’s first General Manager. “I’ve come to San Diego because of my love for the fans and Arena football. I’ll be doing everything from selling tickets, marketing to helping the players. This is a great fit for me to join the Riptide. I live in Northern Arizona so I’m still close to my home,” LaFrance said.

In the first four games San Diego has suffered many key injuries to its starters including offensive specialist Marty Graham, defensive specialist Kevin Burton, sack-leader Ryan Cuthbert and WR/DB Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. “Injuries are a part of the game. You’ve got to play with the hand you’ve been dealt. We just got to keep working hard,” LaFrance said. In addition to the injuries the Riptide’s kicking game has also hurt the team as place-kicker Brad Bohn was cut yesterday. This week the Riptide will try out possible replacements.

During LaFrance’s 12-year career in the Arena League he mastered the game by learning how to play the nets, walls and just about every angle of the game. His experience will be an important factor in helping the young Riptide players make the transition to the indoor game. “This is a game of inches. The game is all about the angles and how to use them. The players need to feel comfortable with the nets, walls and how to use them to their advantage,” He said.

LaFrance spent 1988-1993 with the Arena League’s first dynasty, the Detroit Drive. He won three championships and appeared in five Arena Bowls in six seasons. In 1990 he missed the season due to injury. After 1993 he was traded to the Tampa Bay Storm and spent the next six seasons appearing in three more Arena Bowls (1995,1996,1998) winning two(1995,1996). In 2000 he played his final season with the New Jersey Red Dogs where he became the first AFL player and second pro player to record 20,000 career all-purpose yards. In 2001 he served as an offensive consultant for the af2’s Rochester Brigade, where Riptide QB Kane Claunch played last season.

“He taught me how to read Arena defenses and will bring his Arena experience to all aspects of our organization,” Claunch said.

“I’m blessed to have this opportunity to work with the Riptide. They have an excellent organization from the coaching staff and owner all the way down to the ball boy. I believe there’s no question we can win the division. Our goal is to get into the playoffs,” LaFrance said.

“He exemplifies class and knows the game in and out. He’s the best there is,” Claunch added.

Keith Antigiovanni is a free-lance writer in San Diego, California. He has worked for several local newspapers covering sports, government and business. Keith started writing in 1995 after graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Media Communications from the University of San Diego. Aside from working as a sportswriter he has a side business of providing marketing assistance/research for small businesses and also directs,produces and hosts a regular public access television show on Time-Warner Cable named "San Diego Yesterday". Antigiovanni is also a member of the San Diego Sportswriter Association.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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