Thursday March 23, 2017
Thanks to Tim Viens, sports fans in Vermont now have a professional sports team to cheer for in the spring. Gutterson Fieldhouse has become the home of the Vermont Bucks, an arena team who plays in the newly formed Canadian American Indoor Football League.
Viens, who started and owns the team, is a former South Burlington graduate. “I played football four years at South Burlington High School, then football took me to college for a short stint where I played at Glenville State College in West Virginia for one season before moving home,” he said. He also spent time racing in Florida where he would walk-on to an indoor arena team that Bucks Head Coach Bryson was coaching. That was 10 years ago and while Tim splits his time between Florida and Vermont, he always loved the idea of bringing an arena team to his home in the Burlington area. “I brought football to Vermont because I felt Vermonters would embrace the sport,” he said. “There is a gap between men’s hockey in March to June when the Lake Monsters start up, so I felt it gave Vermonters something extra to do during those months,” he added.
Indoor arena football is not like the football that most people around here are used to seeing. This type of football field fits inside a collegiate hockey rink, is 50 yards long and about half as wide. The endzones are smaller than normal, and so are the teams as there are only eight players on the field from each team at any given time. Players are paid to play, and the Bucks roster is full of guys from all over the country. Some have played on NFL rosters, others played collegiately, and the remaining team members played semi-pro football. There are two Vermonters on the roster, one from the Rutland area who kicked at NC State, and the other is Milton’s own Jamie Holbrook, who just wrapped up his college career at Division Two Southern Connecticut.
The Bucks play an 11 game schedule over the next few months, most of which are at home. The team is hoping to fill the 4,000 seat Gut to capacity each home game. “My hope is that Vermont embraces the Bucks as their own team, you may be a Patriot or Giants fan, but I hope people grab this Buck by the horn and say ‘I’m a BUCK’,” Viens said.
While competitive success is the primary goal of the team, they also hope to be actively involved in the community. The players will be staying at the Anchorage Inn on Dorset Street, so they will be eating locally, shopping locally, and using their influence to reach local people. “Coach Bryson is a coach that gets actively involved in the community from visiting schools to visiting people with special needs, it is an important part of a true community team effort for the Bucks to be involved in the community,” Viens added.
On March 17, months of anticipation crested as the Bucks took their home field for the first time in its history. Just as the colors of real deer blend with the nature, the bright orange uniforms of the Bucks’ players acted as camouflage over the bright orange turf covering Gutterson’s surface. It was a new look for the Gut and was welcomed by many new and excited fans, young and old, who cheered on the Bucks as they cruised to a 73-21 victory over an overmatched Connecticut Chiefs in their inaugural game. As promised, it was a fast-paced, exciting atmosphere for fans and families. As for South Burlington youth and high school football players, playing pro football someday doesn’t have to be an unreachable goal. “Ball players from Vermont need to remember that hard work and dedication can land you where you want as it has with Jamie and Carl (former Vermont high school players on the Bucks), work hard and follow your dreams,” Viens said.
If their first game was any indication, this is just the beginning of Buck season in Vermont. They host the Ontario Niagra Spartans on Saturday, March 25. Kickoff is at 7:05.
SOURCE: Drew Gordon, Correspondent