The former owner of Atlantis Athletic Fitness Centre in Georgetown has taken over the reins as head coach of an arena football league expansion franchise in Laredo, Texas for the upcoming season. Lawrence Fisher sold his interest in the local fitness centre this past fall in order to assume his new role with the Lobos, who will play in the six-team Intense Football League, with teams located along the U.S. Gulf Coast. "I'm so happy to be in a city where the team has already been embraced because-- as everyone knows-- football and Texas are synonymous, like ice hockey is in Georgetown," said Fisher while on a recent quick visit back to Halton Hills to celebrate the second birthday of his son, Dante. "I've been coaching as an assistant for so long and this is an opportunity to make my family back home proud." A native of Clearwater, Florida, the 42year-old Fisher attended Jarvis Collegiate high school in Toronto, then went to Eastern Michigan University, where he played defensive back for the Eagles' football team and graduated with a communications degree. After a free-agent tryout with the NFL's Detroit Lions, he dabbled as a guest coach with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger Cats and Toronto Argonauts in the early 1990s before catching on with the York University football program as a receivers' coach in 1995.
From there, Fisher went on to coach at a number of high schools, club level, some U.S. colleges and even in Europe for a year, before interviewing for the defensive coordinator's job with the Toronto Phantoms arena league team in 2002. Unfortunately for Fisher, the Phantoms folded not long afterward, but during his brief stay in Toronto, he met a cheerleader for the team from Georgetown named Melanie Booth-- now a consultant for Accenture-- and the couple was married in June 2003.
Fisher served as the defensive co-ordinator for the Odessa, Texas franchise for the past two seasons, helping the Roughnecks post a 16-1 record in 2005, with their lone defeat coming in the conference championship game. The IFL was re-established this year as a development stage for the Arena Football League, with Fisher making the jump with Odessa owners Glenn McCampbell and Pierre Deschesnes to head up the team in Laredo, which is located on the U.S.- Mexico border. Fisher will work long days until the start of the IFL's regular season on April 20. Last weekend, 100 players were offered a one day tryout to try to make the team, drawing NFL cast-offs, regular Joes off the street and even three former American Gladiator TV show regulars. "Arena football brings back an Ironman mentality that's been lost in the NFL because everything is so specialized in that league," added Fisher. "We've got players who have to play on both sides of the ball (offensively and defensively), meaning that they have to have toughness and endurance. They're trying to make our team and get game film footage from me so that they can go on and excel at the next level." This is the 20th anniversary season for the AFL, a product that has struggled in many markets, but has shown to be successful in several others. "If you had told me 20 years ago that Arena Football was going to expand the way it has with NFL teams buying into the concept, most people would say you're crazy," Fisher said. "It has created more jobs for people and given players we call `tweeners' the opportunity to get noticed and move up to bigger and better things. But right now, we are working hard toward bringing a championship to a championship city like Laredo."