Most people won’t hear about it on the local news but the more obscure sports in the Music City has lost one franchise but gained another recently.
The Nashville Nightwatch professional ultimate frisbee team announced this week that they will no longer field a team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The Nightwatch played four seasons in the AUDL’s Southern Division but never had a winning season. They showed a lot of promise at times but could only post an 8-44 record and finished last place each season. In their Facebook announcement this week the team posted:
“We would like to thank our players and supporters from the last 4 years. Going forward we will not be playing in the AUDL. We are going to turn our efforts into building our community through club efforts and focusing on our Professional Women’s team, Nashville NightShade. We will be forming a club team with the goal of competing at the highest level. Our experiences learned in the AUDL will allow us to give our club team a pro experience and grow with our community. More information to come, and thank you for your support.”
The Nightwatch organization has been one of the more influential franchises in promoting women’s ultimate so it appears that the Nightwatch could live on through their female counterparts. I’m not sure how the club team will work out and competing at the “highest level” will look like but with the AUDL being the only professional ultimate league, this announcement will leave a void.
The Nightwatch could never get the following necessary to sustain a start-up professional franchise, especially in a non-major sport. The press never really helped the Nightwatch plus the fact that they could not field a competitive team on the field. The team also could never find a good home as they began at Tennessee State University in their inaugural season then moved to Overton High School in their second season and then a terrible move to Hunter’s Lane High School in North Nashville the following season and finally to an awkward field at Vanderbilt University. The move to the Vanderbilt area was one I thought would help but the home field was not really a spectator-friendly venue.
With the demise of the Nightwatch, another team has moved into the void as the Nashville Power brings the city their first indoor football team since the Nashville Venom played in 2014-2015 at the Municipal City Auditorium. The Power will also call the Auditorium home when they kick off their season in the spring of 2019. The Power will play in the Elite Indoor Football League which is basically a semi-pro type league in comparison to the bigger leagues. The Power will join 12 other teams located throughout the East and Southeast.
Although they are playing in an obscure league, they will have a local favorite involved. One of the greatest arena league players of all-time, Cory Fleming, is the Power’s defensive coordinator. Fleming played for the Kats (1997-2001, 2006), Carolina (2002) and Orlando (2003-05). The former Stratford and Tennessee star was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Will this new indoor team make it? I doubt it. The league looks pretty weak. There had been rumors of the return of the Nashville Kats franchise in the National Arena League (NAL) or even a new team in the Arena Football League (AFL) but nothing has been made public.
Don’t be surprised if the Power doesn’t last any longer than the Nightwatch.