As the Pacific Coast Football League kicks off their seasons this weekend, DFUSA talked to league president and Pacifica Islanders owner Brian Martinez about the league’s history, what’s made them successful, and what and who to look for during the 2016 season.
“The league was founded in 2010,” Martinez said. “At the time, the Islanders were part of the PCFL’s rival league called the Northern California Football League. While the NCFL was arguably the top league in Northern California at the time, as the years went on, the more powerful teams seemed to rotate. Slowly but surely teams started going over to the PCFL. In 2013, the Islanders joined the PCFL and I can say now definitively that the best teams in Northern California play in the PCFL based on both what they do on the field and off the field.”
While it’s easy for a league to call themselves the best, the PCFL has been able to grow and develop not because of their wins or statistics, but because of their business model.
“We have a really good board of directors in the PCFL,” Martinez stated. “It’s totally transparent. We don’t make any decisions without a complete vote of the team owners so the owners really are the ones running the league. As league president, I’m more of a figurehead than anything. I help with certain things and can be a tiebreaker on votes if needed. Because of the foundation we have, I see the league continuing on with the same success. There are new leagues popping up all the time to try and compete with us, but this is the league’s seventh year of existence so it has developed some history and shown some stability. Everyone that was with the NCFL is now with the PCFL so we actually have stability dating back to even before this league existed because we all worked together before.”
Not only is the league successful because of the groundwork they’ve laid, but also because they are particular about who joins the league. While some will take anyone to increase their league size, the PCFL has an extensive process to join to ensure that the teams are going to adhere to the same rules and uphold the sanctity of what’s been established.
“We have an extensive application process,” Martinez said. “For the most part except for the past two years, nobody would get in unless they got themselves established somewhere else because we want to see the stability and working business model. Last year we took a first-year team and we did it again this year.
“For the process, you have to meet certain criteria. You have to have a business plan, you need to have a facility committed to you with locker rooms, working scoreboards, a PA and announcer booth, seating for at least 1,000 people, food vendors, and the ability to be able to provide both ice and water for the teams. Once teams provide us with all of that information, we sit down as all the owners and go through the applications. Based off those, we figure out whom we want to bring in for a face-to-face interview. Then we meet with the owners one at a time and ask all the questions you could think of. We also ask for new teams to uphold the image of the league by having social media rules for the player, coaches, and owners. There are a lot of things we want to be guaranteed. There are great teams we have removed from the league because they have an owner who won’t put together statistics. We have a mandatory film exchange and mandatory statistics that have to be up by Monday morning. It’s very simple; if you can’t do what is required of you then you can do it somewhere else. Following the rules and guidelines is what keeps this league successful.
Heading into the 2016 season, the PCFL is once again up for grabs. As stated, this is a league of well-ran organizations that put together quality products on the field and in the communities. With that, you have parody and 2016 will be no different.
“There are 12 teams in the league,” Martinez said. “The teams that I expect to be in the upper echelon are the Islanders, the Northbay Rattlers who won the league last year, the fourth-year South Beach Outlaws who won the league two years ago and have been really strong, and the Solano Chiefs. They look really good from what I hear. They’ve been around for a while. I believe they are in their 20th year. They’ve always been consistent finishing in the middle to top. They pulled some players out the Sacramento area so I expect them to be pushing for a league championship. Another is the Salinas Valley Spartans. They won the league about 5 years ago. They started slow last year, but finished strong so I expect them to compete this year too. Right now, it’s anyone’s year. I just named five of the 12 teams, but anyone can win it. That’s the beauty of it all. You just never know.”
You never do know who will win, that’s why you play the games. One thing is for certain though: whoever wins is going to be a classy organization that supports both their players and community the right way because after all, that’s the PCFL way. Based on what they’ve been able to do, hopefully more leagues try to things the PCFL way too.