LAS VEGAS – Rich Ingold’s weekend already has been special.
The longtime af2 coach who also played an intricate part in the success of the now-defunct AFL was inducted into the inaugural af2 Hall of Fame Saturday night during halftime of ArenaCup X at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Hall of Fame was started to honor those who have been an important part of the league’s success in its first 10 years of existence.
“It’s a payoff for all the time that I spent away from my family, the sacrifice that my wife puts up with, my kids put up with,” Ingold, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers coach, said about the honor. “There’s times I spend a long time away from my family and it’s hard, but it’s worth it. For me to go into the Hall of Fame it’s something they won’t take away from me. My kids are proud of me and that makes me feel good.”
Now, the only thing left for the Hall of Fame coach to do is raise the Arena Cup and bring it back to Wilkes-Barre Township with a victory over the Spokane Shock.
“That would be a perfect weekend,” Ingold said. “My owner, Cosmo DeNicola, and I, they call us the hardest-working people in arena football. We work hard at it. He’s a successful businessman for a reason, he works, and that’s what rubbed off on me to be a successful coach. I always had a work ethic, but he pushes me over the edge.
“I want to bring my owner a championship. He deserves it.”
Ingold, who has won the most games in the history of af2 with a 91-33 record, won an Arena Bowl championship as a quarterback with the Detroit Drive in 1988 in the now-defunct AFL. His arena football career started with the Arena Football League’s Washington Commandos in the first year of the league’s existence, in 1987.
Ingold has a reputation around the league for having a fiery persona, which also rubs off on his players.
“His intensity is absorbed by his football team. They play like he feels,” said Spokane Shock coach Adam Shackleford. “Anybody who watches him coach knows he coaches with passion and fire.”
Ingold, who is known as a vocal individual on and off the field, has been humble about the hall of fame recognition at practices and games.
“He never talks about it,” said Pioneers fullback Kirby Griffin, who is from the western part of the state just like Ingold. “When it first came out he said that we better vote for him but that’s about it.
“It’s a good experience under him because he’s been in the game for 20-plus years, so it’s a great deal.”
Ingold was part of af2’s inaugural hall of fame class along with league president Jerry Kurz and Ingold’s longtime friend and mentor, Jim “Skip” Foster, who entered as one of the three coaches elected.
Foster, who holds an .815 winning percentage as a coach in the league, gave Ingold his first arena coaching job, a stint with Quad City in 2002. Foster is also known as the inventor of arena football.
“Jim Foster is the main reason why I’m here,” Ingold said. “I’m excited about going in with him because he gave me my first shot as a head coach.”
Kurz has been president of the league for five seasons and each year the af2 has shown an increase in attendance, including a record-high in 2008. He is only exceeded in tenure by Foster and is also known as a founding father of the sport.
“I’m extremely grateful and humbled by my inclusion in the very first Hall of Fame class,” Kurz said. “It’s an impressive list of individuals who have achieved great things in the af2 and are a big part of our league’s 10-year history.”
Others who were inducted into the inaugural class on Saturday were wide receivers Mitch Allner and Kevin Prentiss, quarterbacks Matt Sauk and Craig Strickland, owner Dan Newman and coach Kevin Guy.
At press time, the Pioneers were beating the Shock, 21-20, at halftime. For complete coverage of Saturday’s ArenaCup X, visit www.timesleader.com