About the AuthorsAndrew Mason | Joe Kauffman | Sam Wolfson | Chris Arnold
Andrew MasonAndrew Mason's Website
Joe Kauffman"Hello Arena Football fans. My name is Joe Kauffman. Born in Tallahassee, Florida, I moved to Seminole (a suburb of St. Petersburg) when I was about seven months old. I graduated from Florida State University with a BA in general communications (after changing from physics), but my emphasis is in public and media relations. I was married on July 5, 1998 to the former Erika Deer, who was kind enough to allow Andrew, Sam and I to use her six megabytes on the FSU server to house The Storm Shelter until we found our new home with Simplenet. I have been to many sporting events---Buccaneers games, Lightning games (including my first date with Erika), Thrillers of the CBA, Rowdies Soccer, FSU football, basketball and baseball. But none of that could have prepared me for the Tampa Bay Storm and Arena Football.
"I was only able to attend two games that first year in the former Florida Suncoast Dome/ThunderDome, but both were memorable. I can still remember that first game. In fact, it was the very game where Andrew booed Jay Gruden (see last paragraph of the Andrew Mason bio). He started most of the Dome doing that "Chip, Chip, Chip" chant. But it was ending of that first ever Storm-Firebirds game that made it one of the greatest games in AFL history when an Albany pass off the nets was intercepted by the Storm with no time on the clock to preserve a 57-53 win.
"The second game in 1991 was against the Denver Dynamite. The Storm front office pushed the advertising, trying to break the AFL attendance record. it was team photo night, and anyone who showed up early could get autographs with players and have your picture taken with them. It also helped that working in the front office was the greatest player to ever wear a Bucs uniform. NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon was also available for autographs. The Storm did get their record, 24,445, a mark that has only been exceeded twice---a home loss to Orlando in 1993 (28,745, the current record) and ArenaBowl IX (25,087). That game also had the lowest scoring first half in AFL history, as the Dynamite had a 3-0 lead at the break en route to a 30-13 loss to the Storm.
"In 1992, 1993,and 1994, I was only able to attend a total of six games due to jobs and travel, but in 1995 that changed. Getting season tickets with Andrew and Sam, I attended all but one home game, a June 24 loss to the Las Vegas Sting. Since both Andrew and Sam had to be back up in college on September 1 of that year, I got all of our tickets to ArenaBowl IX. It was an exciting moment for Storm fans at the game. We had been waiting five years to win a championship at home, and playing the Orlando Predators made it more special. There were plenty of Preds fans at the game with signs, baloons and beachballs with Storm epitaphs written on them. It didn't matter. The Storm had fire in their eyes that night and were not to be denied. The game was actually anti-climatic after the semi-final win over Albany two weeks earlier when Stevie Thomas ran a muffed kickoff return coast-to-coast with 17 seconds left to put the Storm in the big game.
"1996 ended up being another year where I couldn't go to many Storm games, due to a stupid rule that says you must take nine credit-hours during the summer if you attend a state university. Sam and Andrew had started The Storm Shelter, and for most of the summer it became my lifeline of information to the Tampa Bay Storm. I was able to attend one game that year, the playoff win against Arizona. Since Sam had to go to Durham, I used his press pass for the game. Let me tell you, the view from the press box was unbelievable. It was my first time up there, yet the Storm staff treated me like I was important, not just "some media guy." But even though the game itself was exciting and boosted the Storm to ArenaBowl X, something more important to me occured that night. It was the turning point that caused me to change my college major. I wanted to work in sports, behind the scenes.
"Now I'm going to brag a little. You see, there was no Storm Shelter as recently as eight days before the start of the 1997 season, but I got Andrew over to my house, and, using two computers, we designed and uploaded the site to the FSU server after nearly 36 hours of non-stop work. We were up and running with a week to go before the first game at Arizona. As technical editor, my job, besides writing about the Storm, is making sure the site looks good and is formatted correctly. But if it weren't for a solid kick in the butt to Andrew Mason, the best site covering the Storm on the internet would have died when Andrew's account at the University of Missouri expired on May 17, 1997. Instead, we now have this awesome project that we hope will be around as long as the Tampa Bay Storm."
Sam Wolfson"My name is Sam Wolfson. I was born on July 27, 1976 in the small prairie town of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, in Canada. In 1980, I moved with my mom and my younger sister down to Seminole, Florida where I have lived ever since. I went to St. Petersburg High School to attend the International Baccalaureate program. I now attend Duke University, where I am majoring in both mechanical engineering and mathematics.
"One nice thing about this area is that a lot of my family lives here. Not long after I moved down to the Tampa Bay area, my mom's father decided to take me, his only grandson, to a Bucs game. My grandpa had season tickets to the Bucs since their first year. He had five seats on the 45 yard line which he split with my other grandfather. When I went to that first game, I didn't even like sports. Then I walked into Tampa Stadium. There was a sunny sky. The grass was green. And everything has a special look that you just can't get on TV. I think it was love at first sight. I loved everything about that day. While I can't tell you what the score was in that game, or even who was playing, that day would change my life forever. Little did I know, but when I walked into that stadium for the first time, I would become a Buccaneers fan for the rest of my life.
"But, the NFL season does not last 12 months. Tragically, the regular season (ie the Bucs' season) only lasts a short 4 months. In an area with only one sport, this is hard to take. Help arrived in the summer of 1991. In came an Arena Football team named the Tampa Bay Storm. They were going to play in the Florida Suncoast Dome. I wasn't really sure that I had much interest. To me, Arena Football was still little more than a late night diversion on ESPN. I thought, "What kind of game has uniforms like this?" Even the media poked fun, with Channel 13 sports reporter Andy Hardy dressing up in the Storm uniform as a kicker, Stepon Foot. But, my mom won 4 free tickets to the game, so I went. And I found that it wasn't half bad. At the time, I wasn't sure that it was half good either. But, I thought it was nice to see some football, even with walls around the field. As the team started to win, I started to go to games. I quickly became a fan. I went to more games. To finish the season off, I got together with Joe Kauffman to watch the ArenaBowl. We celebrated when Stevie Thomas hauled in the game winning bomb from Jay Gruden, and we met the team at the airport when they came home.
"The next season, I started going to every game that I could go to. When I went to France for a month, I was updated on the team's progress in my mom's letters. In the next 4 seasons, I enjoyed watching the team capture two more championships. Then, a unique opportunity came my way. I was offered a chance to cover the Storm on a webpage by my friend and fellow Storm fan, Andrew Mason. When I went to that first game, there was no such thing as a web page. Now, we were going to use one to write about the team. Wow! I was impressed. I went from just being a fan to being in the press box. This is an experience that many people in the press, especially the ones covering a young sport like Arena Football, don't get to have. Of course, I wouldn't say that covering the team is the greatest thing in the world for a fan. Impartiality is expected in the press box. In other words, you can't cheer a touchdown, you have to admire it. In a way, I will always miss the way I cheered for the Storm with a similar passion that I cheer for the Bucs. But, I am happy in the knowledge that I am helping other people to follow the Storm. If I am successful in this, it is worth any sacrifice I have made. Even if you don't hear my voice among the thousands in the Ice Palace, my heart will always still be cheering for the Storm."
"I always knew Andrew, Joe and Sam were nuts but they must have blown out too many brain cells at college (college life will do that to you) to turn me loose and let me write my own bio. Hello Arena fans! My name is Chris Arnold and I have been given the honor of being the photographer for the Storm Shelter. I'm also one of the team photographers for the Tampa Bay Storm. Coincidence??? Hmmmm... you be the judge.
"I've been shooting for the Storm since the '94 season. When it's not Storm season, I'm a school volunteer at Hudson High. I help coach Keith Taylor with the cross country (boys and girls) and track (girls) programs. Besides helping at meets, I also do the stats and photography (duh!). I also produce a booklet at the end of the season for the athletes with all of their stats and pics. It's hard to believe, but I'll be starting my 19th year of volunteering! All those hours haven't gone unnoticed... I've been recognised by the district as volunteer of the year 3 different times at Hudson. The Times and 2 different radio stations have honored me as well. When I'm not working or doing sports, there's something else that occupies my time... no Andrew, it's not sleep but my girlfriend Marilyn. She's a fantastic lady!! She must be in order to put up with me! I'm lucky to have her apart of my life.
"As you can tell, I'm a sports nut and enjoy working behind the scenes. I always wanted to work for a professional sports team and was lucky to get the chance. I know you're sitting there wondering, 'How on earth did you get in with the Storm?' Well let me tell ya Chester, I was in the right place at the right time and made the most of my opportunity. The Storm had a kickoff breakfast the day before the first game of the season at the ThunderDome. I went up to Storm owner Bob Gries, and gave him some of the pictures I had shot the year before, hoping to get noticed. He thanked me and George LaFrance walked up. I was collecting autographs for my friend Lisa and I asked George for his. He said sure, so I was thumbing thru the pictures I had (mainly the photos I took from the preseason game the week before) and that caught Bob Gries' eye. He asked if he could look at the photos and I said sure. So there I was, Bob looking at my photos (not the ones I gave him) and George signing a couple of autographs (including a Detroit Drive pic I shot). Bob liked what he saw and asked where I shot these. 'From my seat,'" I replied. Then he asked if I could take even better pictures from the field. 'I'm sure I could. I'd do my best, if given the chance.' He took my name and left a media pass for me for the game the next night. I shot from the field and had doubles made. Well... Bob Gries liked what he saw and as they say, the rest is history!
"Now what you don't know is that there's alot more to this story than what's typed but due to time constraints... It's pretty funny, the guys got a good laugh out of it. The story revolves around the Storm and events of a former friend, whom I will refer to as 'Dude' (this is only to protect the stupid). Believe it or not, somebody on this earth actually hates me! Oh well... 'Dude' is a different story. Anyway...the next time you pick up a game program, more than likely you'll see a few photos I've taken---all because of a dream! Now that I've bored you enough, you can resume checking out the BEST fan site on the internet."
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