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Shackleford returns to assistant’s role after 11 years as arena head coach

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 21, 2017, 6:52 p.m.

Former Spokane Empire coach Adam Shackleford, chatting with his players last February, has heading to Nebraska as an assistant. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Former Spokane Empire coach Adam Shackleford, chatting with his players last February, has heading to Nebraska as an assistant. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Adam Shackleford didn’t think coaching was in his immediate future after the Spokane Empire shuttered operations in July.

“I was maybe making some plans after the new year to get into something different,” said Shackleford, adding that he had no desire to uproot his wife and two sons from their Spokane Valley home.

Shackleford is getting into something familiar and something different. He’s the new offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League.

Shackleford has been a head coach – with the arenafootball2 Spokane Shock for three years, IFL Tri-Cities for six years and IFL Spokane Empire for two seasons – since 2007.

“I told my wife I’m looking forward to being able to sit in the film room and knowing I don’t have to be somewhere at 5 o’clock or 3:30 (for an appearance or media obligation),” he said. “I can focus on the game. That’ll be refreshing.”

Shackleford said he was offered head coaching positions in the National Arena League (NAL), a second-year league based on the East Coast. Former Shock head coach Chris Siegfried is the NAL commissioner.

“They weren’t in the IFL,” Shackleford said. “I like how strong the IFL is and there’s talk of some very positive expansion in 2019. I’ve been doing this long enough to feel I don’t have to grab any job that’s out there.”

Shackleford has known Nebraska first-year coach Mark Stoute for 15 years. Stoute has had numerous coaching stints in the IFL, af2, AFL and was head coach at NAL Jacksonville last season.

Shackleford will leave in February for his temporary digs in Grand Island, Nebraska, for the five-month season.

“A lot of people called and it was a quick no,” said Shackleford, who will call plays for the Danger offense. “When Coach Stoute called, I thought maybe I’d do it for a year and learn a different way to do it. They’ve got a pretty established roster and they’ve won a lot of games.”

Shackleford wasn’t aware of any ex-Empire players signing with IFL teams but didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing some to Nebraska.

Several have apparently joined NAL teams, including Nick Haag with Worcester and Trevor Kennedy, Tyree Robinson, Robert Brown and Deveric Gallington with Jacksonville.

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Life without arena football: Faithful fans root for return of high-flying sport to Spokane

The season is winding down in arena football leagues across the country but not in Spokane. The franchise – known as the Shock for the first 10 seasons in arenafootball2 and the Arena Football League and the Empire for two seasons in the Indoor Football League – shuttered last July for financial reasons. The organization’s 12-year run was long by most arena franchise standards, but not long enough for its diehard fans.