It takes a lot of work and many factors working together well in unison over a long period time just to have one successful football season, so to have consistent success for more than 50 years is simply incredible, especially at the developmental football level. That’s exactly what the Albany Metro Mallers have done.
The Metro Mallers have been around since the 1960s and have won more than 10 league championships. In 2008 they won the national championship and just last year they finished ranked No. 3 in the nation.
When a team has a long track record of success like this, the tradition builds and so does what it means to be a part of it. After playing for the team for more than 30 years – up until his late 40s – Sal Iavarone had the opportunity to take over as owner in 2012 to take the team even further.
Last year, the Metro Mallers finished 14-1 and won the World Football Federation Championship. When his team made it to this game, Iavarone took a major step of faith.
“One thing Albany has done that no other team in semipro has done, I took a gamble,” Iavarone told DFUSA. “We played against Central Penn in the championship game and we were playing at our field, so I took the gamble that we were going to win and already had the hats and t-shirts made up. That’s something no one’s ever done in the semipro world.”
Having championship apparel ready when the final second ticked off the clock isn’t the only thing that sets the Metro Mallers apart. They also have state of the art facilities, calling the University of Albany’s Bob Ford Field home.
“We have a video board,” Iavarone said. “When the players see something happen, you can look up and see the replay. The video board brings that to life and no other team (around here) has that.
“We provide the players with multiple shirts, hoodies, winter hats, baseball hats, they get a lot of merchandise,” Iavarone said. “We’ve gone out to Racine, Wisconsin, and played the Raiders. We went out to Georgia last year to play in a game. We will travel to play a big game. If Albany says they are going to come play at your place, then we’re going to be there. We show up in a bus and we’re all there so we’re pretty dependable.”
The resources alone haven’t made the team successful though; several people have put in lots of work over the years and have also developed some very strong chemistry.
“We’ve got some good talent, pretty much just local guys that just come together well,” Iavarone said. “We’re a very experienced defensive team that’s getting up there in age, but got some young blood coming in.
“On the offensive side, we’ve got some good ball players that are helping out. I was a player for 30 some years and I was a leader on the field, so I know how the players do that and I really appreciate the stuff they do.”
Albany has way too much working in their favor to not have high expectations every year and 2016 is no different.
“We want to win the league, then the Harvest Bowl then the national championship,” Iavarone said. “That’s the pecking order, but it really comes down to winning the national championship game. You can take a game down in Florida or play in a tournament to earn your way down to Florida. We always choose to earn our way to Florida.”
In addition to winning championships, traveling to leave their mark in other parts of the country is something the Metro Mallers also enjoy.
“It intrigues me to play a team away from home,” Iavarone said. “I want to play a team from out in California and do things no other teams have done before. I want to be the first East Coast team to do that.
“The Racine Raiders, they draw the most fans in the country, they draw 5,000 fans to a game. They are the ones you wish you could follow. We’ve gone there to play them a couple of times. To go West Coast would be something I would really love to do.”