Up North: Duluth Harbor Monsters looking emphasize community ties in inaugural season

Up North: Duluth Harbor Monsters looking emphasize community ties in inaugural season

Up North: Duluth Harbor Monsters looking emphasize community ties in inaugural season

As the Super Bowl has come and gone and college football is long over, those that are looking for some football action in the Northland have a new option – the Duluth Harbor Monsters.

“You know, we see ourselves in our players, we see our messaging and the Duluth brand even in the Harbor Monsters community and how we project ourselves; we have that same hardworking spirit,” said Ashlie Castaldo, the Harbor Monsters community liaison. “We have a lot of the ingenuity, we have that willingness to take risks for things that matter, and when we see that within Duluth, not only as a city, but we can see in our team, it really is kind of like a cycle success for us.”

The Duluth Harbor Monsters are looking to bring this heat this summer.

The new Arena League football team is chomping at the bit to get the inaugural season started, just ask head coach Tony O’Neil.

“I’m excited through this whole process,” said O’Neil. “All of it’s been a learning process. As a first year head coach, along with the first year team, building this team from the ground up is like my baby. It’s real personal for me.”

The Harbor Monsters held open tryouts in Proctor, in search of some local stars.

One player signed early on is Duluth East alum, Derek Daniels Jr.

The former Greyhound was a slot receiver and cornerback for East, as well as a track star, so his versatility is part of the Harbor Monsters plan for success.

“Yeah, Derek, that’s one of my favorites, said Junior Gregory, the Harbor Monsters offensive coordinator. “You know, he brings a lot to the table. He’s a dynamic player. He could play, you know, receiver, he could play running back. He plays multiple positions. So he’s going to be a key factor in our offense.

The Harbor Monsters are hoping the local connection doesn’t stop there.

In conjunction with players that fit the mold, it’s also important to have some local flare on the roster.

“Guys that can learn plays on the fly, adjust on the fly and kind of disguise plays, making it harder on the quarterback to make easy reads,” said O’Neil. “But most of all, people that were locked in and paying attention to what we were trying to accomplish today.”

“I’m looking for a little bit that star power in a way,” said Castaldo. “You know, who are some individuals who are really going to be the best face of our organization, who are the ones who we have the fans connect with the most, and how to translate their narrative and their story to make it so they’re not just, you know, players, but they’re people in the community that they know and love and that they attach to.”

While there’s plenty of excitement about the season, there’s one thing everyone’s looking forward to the most.

“Scoring, you know, scoring and celebrating. That’s my favorite,” said Gregory. “I tell my players that you work hard 365, all the time just to do what? Score touchdowns! So when we score, it’s time to celebrate. It’s time to like, you know, show them what you’ve been working on all year.”

All eyes will be on the Harbor Monsters in their season opener on June 1st, and hopefully there’s plenty of celebrating.