Jersey Flight AAL Competition, and Future Hopes
Jersey Flight History and Highlights.
When the Jersey Flight arena football team first appeared, it had already made history before the team had even played a single game. Founded in 2017 by two former police officers and New Jersey businesspeople, Samuel Davis Jr and Kyna Felder-Ruiz, Jersey flight was the first 100% African American-owned sports franchise in New Jersey to include an African American woman as a majority director.
Originally announced to be playing its first season in the spring of 2018 as a member of the National Arena League (NAL), Jersey Flight’s plans later changed when the NAL updated its membership requirements. This saw the team transfer to the newly-formed American Arena League (AAL) where it would play its first two seasons (2018-2019).
Period of flux
Unfortunately, while Jersey Flight would complete its inaugural 2018 season with a respectable 5–3 record, the season was also tarnished by scandal when, two games into the season, its founders were arrested on suspicion of tax fraud.
The ensuing period saw the team go through a period of uncertainty and unclear ownership. This period finally settled down in April of 2019 when the new owner was officially announced to be New Flight Enterprises.
With new ownership came a new management team and, with it, a renewed energy and dedication to breathing new life into the club. Jay Sababu, the majority owner of the newly-formed New Flight Enterprises, recognized that while the team had been good for Trenton, public awareness about the team was still low.
This saw the team set out to reestablish and build upon its prior community and business relationships with a view to creating new opportunities and improved connections. Additional recognition and support was also given to the team’s cheer and dance squad — the First Class Flight Team (FCFT).
Disappointingly for the players and its Trenton community fans, the team was only able to compete in three games in the 2019 season following the ownership change. However, the team still put in a solid 2–1 performance and, by the end of the season, the team met the requirements to become a member of the NAL in 2020, from which it was rejected in its inaugural 2018 season.
New General Manager and Coach
The move to the NAL saw Jersey Flight announce Terrence “Terry” Foster as its new General Manager and Head Coach, a highly-experienced arena football leader with prior posts as Defensive Coordinator for the Cape Fear Heroes and Offensive Coordinator of the High Country Grizzlies.
As fate would have it, however, Jersey Flight’s 2020 season would again be disrupted, this time as a result of Covid-19. With the entire 2020 NAL season canceled, the Flight would experience a giant gap in its game history, with its inaugural NAL game not coming until May 2021.
American Arena League
The team finished the 2021 season with a 2-6 win-loss record; a somewhat disappointing result given its relative success in its first two seasons. However, not to be discouraged, the team is looking to make a comeback in 2022 as a member of the American Arena League competition where it will compete against teams like the other local team the Jersey Bearcats, and previous seasons champions the North Texas Bulls and the West Virginia Roughriders, among other previous competitors such as the Maryland Warriors, Reading Raptors, Capital City Seahawks, Maryland Eagles, and the Central Penn Chargers.
Here, Jersey Flight hopes to recapture its early successes, and maybe even take out the season’s championship playoffs.