Darryl Stonum is a sports contributor to The Paper. In addition to holding communications and media degrees from the Univ. of Michigan and Baylor University, Darryl has played professional football for the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and was a contributor to the NFL network.


Indoor Football League Making Waves

Some may know and some may not know that we have a professional football team right here in our backyard. The Duke City Gladiators of Albuquerque. What may also be news to you is the Gladiators are a 2x world champion professional football team.

Now the Duke City Gladiators are on the move behind their new owner, real estate entrepreneur Gina Thomas, to the highest level of professional indoor football. Duke City is leaving the Champions Indoor Football league (CIF) as back-to-back champions to conquer the IFL (Indoor Football League), which is the highest level of professional indoor football in the U.S. To put the IFL in perspective of professional football leagues, just think about this—there are only three active professional football leagues in the United States: the NFL (which we all know), the IFL and the CIF, and the Gladiators are eager to compete and bring a third world championship to New Mexico. “We are hungry for another championship! Leaving the CIF as two times champions to conquer the IFL which is the highest level of competition. … We can’t wait to continue to prove that we are the best,” said linebacker Jason Serda.

The Gladiators are set to begin their season April 3, 2021 against the 2017 IFL champion Arizona Rattlers. This will be an at home game at Bay Equity Field at Tingley Coliseum. Until then you can catch the Gladiators out and active in the community.

“We are extremely passionate about getting out in the community and serving our city/state in any way we can. It’s important that we build a foundation of trust with our community and that they know we are there for them as much as they are there for us every weekend at Tingley Coliseum,” said team owner Gina Thomas.

This year, the Gladiators were extremely active in the community, helping gather up voter ballots from around the city to be processed and counted, assisting small businesses and veterans affected by the pandemic or handing out meals to veterans and those in need during the holiday season. The team also partners with New Mexico Autism Society to create sensory-friendly spaces during games. The Gladiators are one of only two Purple Heart Teams in the nation (NFL’s North Carolina Panthers being the other) and are actively engaged and committed to supporting our veterans.

The Gladiators bring a much welcomed sports league to the city, and hopefully, in 2021 will help build even more community support. [ ]