Orlando Predators feature fan club unlike any other in Arena Football


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Orlando Predators fans stuck with the team last season after being forced to move to the CFE Arena, nearly 16 miles from downtown Orlando.

In the Arena Football League, fans have extensive access to players. Each team has multiple fan clubs and supporter groups, but few clubs make these players feel as comfortable in their new environment as the Orlando Predators “In Your Face” fan club.

When players are drafted into or traded to a new team, they have to pick up their life and move it somewhere else, sometimes across the country. In a league where the players once earned as little as $400 a game, the newly transplanted talent could use all the help they could get in starting their new life.

Under past ownerships players arriving in Orlando were provided with team housing but not much more, so that was when the fan club stepped in and helped donate household supplies like soap, toothpaste, dishes, coffee mugs, towels and more.

“They would come to town and get apartments and they didn’t have anything,” said current co-head of the club Nancy Morris, who helps run the organization along with her husband Steve Morris. “So we would just collect up the basics: paper towels, tissues, laundry soap, whatever you have around the house, some old coffee mugs or anything, and we donate it just to get them started. It’s the case where we want them to feel welcome, even though they’re coming to a new town, a new job, a new team, we want them to know they already have family that can welcome them.”

Forming over twenty years ago, the club has been a staple in the Predators community providing these much needed services for the players and has maintained a membership of a few hundred people in its prime in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

“It’s been around since the beginning of the Predators. I was a season ticket holder and I knew some members who said how great it was, and they were right, it was great,” said Morris on how she became hooked onto the club. “The sport itself drew us to the game, but the interaction between the fans, players, and coaches is definitely a plus.”

Through the major up’s and down’s the league and the Predators have experienced with a multitude of ownership changes, venue changes, and even questions of the team’s existence at certain points, members have stuck around and still enjoy the sport and the club just as much as the day they joined.

Unfortunately, after the league folded in 2009, many fans didn’t return after the resurrection and numbers are currently hovering around 60 members according to Morris.

The club also organizes a yearly Welcome Back barbecue every preseason to welcome in new members as well as reconnect with pre-existing ones after the offseason. Fans also pick up their season ticket packages every year before the club’s barbecue.

“We do a welcome back picnic,” said Morris. “We do it for the team right after the season ticket pick-up party just to welcome back the returning players and to introduce the new players to their new Predator family, and at the end of the season we do our big BBQ.”

With the team coming back to the Amway Center after a season at CFE Arena, the In Your Face fan club was by their side through it all and they are here to stay.

Members can join by emailing Nancy Morris or by connecting with her on the In Your Face fan club page on Facebook.