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Georgia Pride ready to kick off season
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Who said there isn't football in Georgia during the summer?

The Georgia Pride, a third-year organization and member of the United South Football League, is gearing for its first game of the season on June 14.

"Some people call it semi-pro," said Pride co-owner/defensive coordinator Nathan Stephens, "but we don't like to refer to it as semi-pro because we feel like semi means half, and we're not half of anything. We prefer to call it minor league football, which is what a lot of other people refer to it as."

The Pride was established in 2006 by Neal Bennett and Stephens after they successfully coached the Gwinnett Panthers to an overall 13-1 record and SSL championship.

"We're still looking for qualified coaches," Stephens acknowledged, who has been one of just two coaches running the team. "If we had a couple other guys helping us out it would relieve that much more pressure off of us and make the team that more successful."

The Pride, which competes against teams from Tennessee to Alabama to Georgia, is still holding tryouts. Tryouts are held on an individual basis, and will continue throughout the month of May each Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at noon.

What Stephens tries to do is take players who competed at the college level who didn't quite make the cut for whatever reason (i.e. grades). In addition, he also accepts players straight out of high school who still have a passion for the game.

"We take them in and keep developing them," Stephens said, "and hopefully we can get them to the next level, whether that (is) arena football, European leagues, etc. Right now we've got a really good group of kids."

In its first year, the Pride went 14-1. Despite going 6-5 last year, it still made the divisional championship game.

"We've probably got the best team yet," Stephens said, "but I'll never turn away a kid because you never know who's going to be the next big thing - I'll give them every opportunity."

Practices are held at Loganville Elementary, while home games are played at the Old Monroe High School field in Monroe.

The first game for the Pride is against the Georgia Knights at 7 p.m. on June 14 at Banneker High School in Atlanta.

For more information on the Georgia Pride, visit the Web site at