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Grip on Sports: We interrupt this summer of baseball with a bit of football

Empire head coach Adam Shackleford calls a play for quarterback Aaron Wilmer in a May, 2017, IFL game. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Empire head coach Adam Shackleford calls a play for quarterback Aaron Wilmer in a May, 2017, IFL game. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We may not be all that far away from July, but today is a good day to touch base with football. Indoor and outdoor football. Read on.

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• There probably wasn’t a bigger, quicker hit in Inland Northwest sports than the Spokane Shock.

When the Arena2 football team began early in this century, it took the area by storm. Not only were the Shock successful on the field – they were 14-2 in their first regular season and went on to win the Af2 postseason title – but off the field as well. The Arena rocked just about every game with the sound only 10,000 rabid fans could make.

From there on-field success followed. There was another Af2 title, more title game appearances and, after the secondary league folded, a move up to the Arena Football League, which had been dormant for a season.

The first year in the top league? Spokane won the title. There were 11,017 people in the Arena that September night in 2009 to watch Kyle Rowley throw nine touchdown passes and the Shock down Tampa Bay, 69-57.

But that was the nadir. The franchise – and the sport – was on its way out.

In a half-dozen years, the team would be sold, the leagues – and the name, from Shock to Empire – would change again and, after last season, the franchise would fold up shop.

Indoor football is Spokane was gone. But not forgotten.

Jim Meehan found that out. And he shares what he learned with you in a series of stories today. Jim has an overview. He catches up with former coach Adam Shackleford (and lists a lot of the former coaches and players and what they are doing). And he touches base with popular defensive back Terrance Sanders.

The series of stories is not to be missed, whether you were one of the Shock faithful or not.

• It’s hard to read more stories about Tyler Hilinski. Since the Washington State quarterback took his life in January, there has, seemingly, been an unending string of stories examining every aspect of his life and death.

But I would recommend one more. The Register’s Mark Whicker has a column today on the Hilinski family – they live in Orange County – and how they are coping with the tragedy. It’s worth your time.

•••

WSU: Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Oregon State will play for the College World Series title, facing off with Arkansas in a three-game series starting Monday. The Beavers earned their spot with a 5-2 win over Mississippi State, their second consecutive win over the Bulldogs. … A Colorado basketball player is coming back from a rare injury.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs will be looking for a new women’s track and field coach.

EWU: The foot is in the door. Bogdan Bliznyuk has nothing more than a chance to show the Los Angeles Clippers’ management he is worth a roster spot. Ryan Collingwood has a story on the Eastern star’s NBA summer league decision.

Indians: Spokane returned home. But that didn’t stop the losing. Dave Nichols has the game story from the Indians’ 7-4 loss to Vancouver at Avista Stadium. … Around the Northwest League, Boise defeated host Eugene and Everett won its sixth consecutive game, defeating visiting Tri-City.

Chiefs: Filip Kral is headed to Toronto. The Maple Leafs selected the defenseman in the fifth round of the NHL draft. Kevin Dudley has more in this story.

Mariners: The M’s needed a stellar pitching performance to snap their long losing streak. They got it from Mike Leake. His effort keyed a 7-2 win at Boston. … Even though Nelson Cruz is hitting like we all expect Nelson Cruz to hit, for the Mariners to reach their goals this season, they will still need Robinson Cano. And Jean Segura. … The M’s recent struggles is the subject of Dave Nichols’ Out of Right Field column.

Sounders: Clint Dempsey scored a significant goal and the Sounders drew with Chicago at 1-1. … Cristian Roldan got the start.

•••        

• So last night was fun. Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” should have been on a loop for about four hours. I didn’t know I was that good a player (I wasn’t). But it sure was good to touch on the past, if only for a while. It may not be Cooperstown, but it felt a bit like it. Until later … 


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