TWENTYNINE PALMS — With less than a week to go before their first game, members of the Twentynine Palms 29ers semi-pro adult football team signed their contracts to take part in the nonprofit group.
The 29ers, who will play eight-man football in the Wild West Football League, will travel to Lake Havasu to take on the Titans on Saturday, Feb. 29.
The team will play a 13-week season in a conference with nine teams.
They will have a three-week home stand, playing the Mercury, Inferno and Broncos, on Saturday, March 14, 21 and 28, at Tom Nicoll Memorial Stadium, Two Mile Road and Utah Trail. Games will start at 5 p.m.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for military, $2 for seniors and free for children under the age of 13. There is a $1 discount for anyone wearing the team colors, royal blue and yellow.
There will be a snack bar. Plans are being made to sell team merchandise.
Team owner Shaka Gray hosted a celebration, along with a brief signing ceremony, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 23, at Luckie Park.
He also took advantage of the opportunity to talk about his goals for the team, on and off the field, goals which include winning a first year championship.
“We are looking to give back to the community,” he told his players. “This is your chance to do something great.”
The day was also a birthday celebration for Gray and the son he lost in childbirth.
“He is what drives me and my passion,” Gray said.
He acknowledged hitting some rough patches in his attempt to get the first year team organized. The jerseys he had hoped to pass out were not available and not ever team member was able to attend the ceremony.
“Over time things will get better,” he said.
He emphasized the focus on community service for team members.
“This is not just a football team,” he said, noting that every week members will be asked to work with other organizations in the community. “We are a team for the community, built by the community.”
He admonished players to be friendly to fans who come to home games and ask for autographs or photographs with players.
“You will give them the time, take the photos with them,” he said. “This is going to happen season after season, year after year.”
Gray praised the Titans, who will be the 29ers first official opponents.
“If I could play them 12 times in a row I would,” he said.