The Philadelphia Soul held an open tryout this past weekend. It’s something that has become a tradition for the local Arena Football League (AFL) team.
On the surface, it looks like a gimmicky way to embrace the city — and collect an extra $60 (or $80) via the registration fee. Rest assured, it is not.
“We’re looking for players,” said Ron Jaworski, Soul president and part owner. “If you’re here just to get a T-shirt, we’ll know and you’ll be exposed real fast.”
Nearly 300 people showed up at the NovaCare Complex for a chance at cracking the Soul roster. Each person was tested in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle and standing broad jump before moving on to position drills.
Head coach Clint Dolezel oversaw the entire workout, instructing and critiquing the athletes just as he would his own players. He cut the group down to about 80 guys.
“Now we go back and evaluate tape. It’s a slow process,” said Dolezel, who inked a two-year contract with the Soul earlier this month. “We try to get the info back to the guys pretty fast.”
Dolezel also repeated several times that the open tryout was serious business. Last year, three players — Alfonso Hoggard, Jesse Cooper and Phil Marfuggi — earned AFL contracts. On Saturday, the coach said he was very impressed with what he saw.
“A lot of times, when you have open tryouts, you don’t get great talent but we had a great nucleus of players out here,” Dolezel said. “The skill positions, that’s where my focus was because that’s what my position is, they did well. I thought it was one of the better camps I’ve been in in the last 16, 17 years.”