Siegfried returns – on opponent’s sideline
Chris Siegfried faced a decision many successful coaches encounter at some point in their careers: Should I stay or go?
Siegfried had just led the Spokane Shock to an ArenaCup championship in its inaugural season in 2006. If he stayed, he knew the organization was committed to winning and every indication was that Spokane would remain among arenafootball2’s elite. If he went to Kansas City, he would be working for a friend and maybe taking the next step toward his goal of becoming an Arena Football League head coach.
Siegfried chose to go.
“It was the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my career, just because my family and I loved it there, great organization, community,” Siegfried said. “It was tough, but you gotta believe there’s a plan for everybody and we just keep moving forward.”
After moving on from Kansas City, where Siegfried acknowledged “it didn’t work out,” and spending two years as head coach at af2 Arkansas, Siegfried returns to Spokane on Saturday as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator. The Sharks (6-1) have the best record in AFL while the Shock are one of three teams with 5-2 marks.
Siegfried has been back to Spokane twice since 2006. He watched the Shock lose to Tennessee Valley in the 2008 ArenaCup. He was on hand because then-Arkansas quarterback Kyle Rowley, now the starter for the Shock, was receiving the af2 offensive player of the year award and Twisters receiver Chris Denney was named playmaker of the year. Denney couldn’t make the trip, so Siegfried gladly pinch hit.
Siegfried also brought Arkansas in for a preseason game last year.
He’s not the type who wastes time looking back at what might have been had he stayed in Spokane.
“It was bittersweet, because it was a great opportunity for me and my family to get to the next level as a coach,” he said. “Who knew the league would fold in two years? It had been around 20 years at the time. It’s crazy how it worked out.”
Siegfried’s career has seemingly followed a pattern. The 2006 season in Spokane was magical. “We had a great group of guys, great character guys,” he said. “It was one of those years that was meant to be.”
Kansas City in 2007 didn’t go as smoothly, although the Brigade made the playoffs. He rebounded with a couple of good years in Arkansas, but the 2009 campaign turned tough with an ownership change and a downturn in the economy.
Siegfried is happy in Jacksonville, which is roughly 21/2 hours from his family’s home base near Orlando. His wife operates several stores specializing in tobacco and cigars. When Les Moss was hired as Jacksonville’s head coach, Siegfried called the following day. A few days later, he’d interviewed and was named offensive coordinator.
On Saturday, Siegfried will see several familiar faces wearing Shock jerseys (Rowley, Raul Vijil and Ed Ta’amu were with the ’06 team; Rowley, Jerry Turner, Travis Williams, Taylor Rowan and Aaron Robbins played for him in Arkansas) and coaching shirts (Rob Keefe played on the ’06 Shock and Travis Crusenberry was Spokane’s line coach in ’06). Siegfried also coaches Charles Frederick, one of the standouts from the ’06 Shock who has an outside chance of playing against the Shock on Saturday.
Siegfried is saving the sentimentality.
“It’ll be nice before the game and after the game,” he said. “During the game it makes no difference to me. I don’t care who is on the other side of the ball, I’m just trying to do the best I can to get a win.”
Spokane made numerous moves Tuesday, signing center Brandon Leyritz, defensive back Ruschard Dodd-Masters and offensive lineman Adam Juratovac, trading OL Branden Hall to Alabama for future considerations and releasing DB James Todd. OL Antonio Narcisse, who was on crutches at practice after being injured in last Saturday’s win over Utah, has been placed on injured-reserve. Leyritz, who played for Spokane in 2007, is expected to fill in at center for Narcisse. Juratovac is a former Idaho Vandal who has been on the Shock’s radar since a preseason tryout at Washington State University.