TRAVERSE CITY — Aaron James loves football so much, he'll travel great distances to play the game.
As quarterback of the Traverse City Wolves, James drives several hours a few times a week from his Muskegon home just to practice with the team.
But that's nothing compared to the miles James has logged before this season.
After graduating from Dakota Wesleyan University, James spent 2006 playing in Denmark, 2007 in France, 2008 and 2009 in Switzerland and then he played a season in Norway earlier this summer.
"I try to tell these guys all the time, 'you should take this as fun, but try to build an avenue to go somewhere else,'" James said. "I play overseas and I don't make millions of dollars. But I get to travel the world for free and I get to meet new people.
"I love (the travel), trust me. But at the same token, I love football. Like now, I drive 2.5 hours (one way) three times a week to play a game."
So far, the travel has been well worth it for James. After losing 26-23 to the South Georgia Warriors in January's Palm Bowl as a member of the Grand Rapids Thunder, James has had nothing but success. His Norway team went 10-0 en route to a title. As quarterback of the Wolves, TC is off to a 4-0 start.
The Norway experience was a unique one, as James was head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback.
"I had to be on point," James said. "I had to make sure I had planned practice every day, make sure guys were coming, I had to condition guys. I had to make sure I worked myself. It took some discipline, because it was easy to say I'm the coach and I'm not going to run. But at the same token, I'm a player too."
It paid off, as James' Edsvoll 1814 squad won a championship. And a week later, he was suiting it up for the Wolves in a 40-17 win over the Capital City Stealth.
"It was pretty tough as far as the way it happened," James said. "We won the championship on Saturday, I had two days to party and relax. I was on a plane on Monday and I was in a car coming here (to Traverse City) on Tuesday."
The Wolves knew exactly the kind of player they were getting in James. Especially head coach Brad Haney, who spent several seasons with James at Grand Rapids.
"Leadership is the key thing at quarterback. You need guys to follow you," Haney said. "If you have that in your system, you can be a pretty good quarterback. The rest is just a plus. He can throw the ball, run the ball and really control the offense. But the main thing is he can really get guys to follow him."
James, a Muskegon Big Red graduate, knew a few of his teammates from Grand Rapids. In fact, several voted for him as a captain before he even joined the Wolves. As for the others, James worked hard at building a rapport quickly.
"I had to get the core of the team together and make sure I was on the same page with the rest of the receivers and know my linemen's names," James said. "But, me and a lot of these guys were friends on Facebook and we used to talk daily. We had a little something building, but then once I got here I had to tie it all together."
James and his teammates clicked immediately. But now a big test stands in their way as Indianapolis — the 2008 North American Football League champ — comes to town on Saturday.
"I'm really excited," James said. "We really haven't had a game where we were challenged and opened up our whole playbook to show everything. A lot of people think if you play a weak team, you should throw for 400 yards. But it's totally the opposite. When you play a weak team or a lesser opponent, you're only going to be in for so long. Last week (in a 78-13 win vs. London) before I even threw a pass we were already winning 21-7."
More of the offense should be on display this week.
"The funny thing we were talking about on the way up today is they haven't even seen the strength of our offense," Haney said. "We've been going with what's working, but not with what our strength is. I truly believe this Saturday we're going to have to pull out the strength of our offense in order to compete with Indianapolis."
Haney said the Tornados have a couple of running backs currently in camp with the Indianapolis Colts and also feature a speedy playmaker at wide receiver in Glenn Ayro.
"These are the games I love coaching in," Haney said. "The table is against us and the chips are on the other side. They're projected to win and nobody's giving us a shot. But Saturday night, we're going to prove them all wrong."
While Haney and James may have to open up more of the playbook on Saturday, they know they'll be on the same page thanks to years of experience together.
"That's one of the better things about playing football at the semi-pro level," James said. "You want to find coaches and players you're comfortable with. They know you not only as a player, but as a person. Coach Brad knows me as a person first, and then he knows me as the player. He can look at me sometimes and know exactly what I'm thinking.
"We've got that bond where I can say 'coach, don't run that. Try this play.' He trusts in me and I trust in him."
TRAVERSE CITY — Aaron James loves football so much, he'll travel great distances to play the game.
Traverse City Wolves tryouts Saturday
Open tryouts for the Traverse City Wolves will be held Saturday.Continued ...
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Wolves looking to finish with a victory
It's a little earlier than hoped, but the Traverse City Wolves season ends tonight.Continued ...
Wolves fall to Gators
The Michigan Gators improved to 4-1 with a 37-13 win over the Traverse City Wolves.Continued ...
- Saturday, June 23, 2012
Liles new owner of TC Wolves
The Traverse City Wolves host the Steel City Patriots tonight at Thirlby Field — with a new owner.Continued ...
- Friday, June 22, 2012
TC Wolves return to Thirlby
Saturday’s Traverse City Wolves game against the Steele City Patriots will be held at Thirlby Field at 7 p.m.Continued ...
- Sunday, June 10, 2012
Wolves fall in home opener
Lakeshore scores fourth-quarter TD for 35-27 winContinued ...
- Saturday, June 9, 2012
Wolves ready for home opener
Every year when the Traverse City Wolves take the field for the first time, the dream of returning to the game of football is realized for plenty of first-year players on the team. Ryan Salisbury and Nick Radamaker were among the first-year Wolves to experience that last weekend.Continued ...
Micham set for 2nd season with Wolves
Head coach Rick Micham recently talked about his team and the season with the Record-Eagle.Continued ...
- Monday, June 4, 2012
Wolves win opener
The Traverse City Wolves opened their Great Midwest Football League season Saturday night with a 28-0 win over the Southeast Michigan Mercenaries.Continued ...
- Sunday, August 14, 2011
Wolves win season finale
A determined Traverse City Wolves finished the regular season with a 38-7 win over the Grand Rapids Thunder Saturday at Thirlby Field. The win gave TC a 5-5 record for the season.Continued ...
- Sunday, August 7, 2011
Tigers beat Wolves; playoff hopes still alive
The Traverse City Wolves dropped a virtual must-win game, but still has a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs. The West Michigan Tigers defeated the Wolves 33-28.Continued ...
- Sunday, July 24, 2011
Winning streak ends for Wolves
The Lakeshore Cougars proved why they’re the top ranked team in the Great Midwest Football League.Continued ...
- Sunday, July 17, 2011
Defense leads Wolves to win
Ray Gidley started the party. Shane Pennington and Michael Stagg joined in while Tim Ohlert finished it. All four starting defensive backs for the Traverse City Wolves came up with an interception Saturday as the Wolves picked up a 25-6 win over the Southeast Michigan Mercenaries at Thirlby Field.Continued ...
- Friday, July 15, 2011
New quarterback has Wolves in Hunt
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Here, he's found another family with the Traverse City Wolves.
- Monday, July 11, 2011
Wolves beat London on Bocardo OT FG
Pablo Bocardo kicked an overtime field goal to give the Traverse City Wolves a 32-29 win over the London Silverbacks.Continued ...
- Sunday, June 26, 2011
Wolves hang on for victory
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- Sunday, June 19, 2011
Wolves fall to Tigers
The Traverse City Wolves dropped a 20-3 decision to the West Michigan Tigers.Continued ...
- Thursday, June 16, 2011
Elk Rapids grad takes reins for Wolves
Imagine the scenario.Continued ...
In the first quarter of Rick Micham's first game as head coach of the TC Wolves, the team's first two quarterbacks are knocked out with injuries and Micham has to turn to his All-Star kicker to go take snaps.
For most coaches, the situation may have come with a lot of stress. But most coaches don't have Pablo Bocardo.
"We would have very easily put him at that starting (quarterback) role, but as valuable as he is kicking the ball, that's huge for us," Micham said.
The Wolves play Saturday at Thirlby Field against the West Michigan Tigers.
- Sunday, June 12, 2011
Wolves punish Punishers
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- Sunday, June 5, 2011
Wolves drop opener
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- Saturday, June 4, 2011
Wolves ready for season opener
The Traverse City Wolves launch their third season tonight, amidst numerous changes, when they host the Lakeshore Cougars at Thirlby Field. Team owner Daniel Skibbe talked about the changes and the upcoming season with the Record-Eagle.Continued ...
- Monday, October 18, 2010
Season ends for Traverse City Wolves
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- Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wolves win playoff game
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- Traverse City Wolves tryouts Saturday