One of Lansing’s newest semi-professional football teams is ready to bring football to the capital city and to the local athletes who thought their days on the field were over.
“We’re giving guys a second chance to play ball again. A lot of guys after high school never play again,” said Cody Carns, coach and co-founder of the Capital City Lightning.
The Lightning joins nine other semi-professional teams across the state to compete in the Great Midwest Football Conference. They welcome athletes of all ages to compete and bring their skills to the next level.
“What you gain on the field when you’re working with your brothers, it’s not something a lot of people find in life,” said coach and co-founder John Nebbefeld. “I mean, three of the kids I grew up with are dead and I kept off of that path because of the friendships and family I found in football.”
Coaches Carns, Nabbefeld and Cassey Morgan created the Capital City Lightning in March and have hosted open practices every week since. Their roster continues to grow as more athletes find their way to the Lightning in hopes of getting another opportunity to take the field.
“We’re creating men here. Some guys don’t always have it, but we’re making them men. We’re here to build them up,” Carns said.
In order to join the team, athletes must sign a code of conduct that coaches say holds them to a high standard of respect, accountability, and integrity.
“We want everybody to carry themselves in the utmost manner. We want everyone to be good men, to be good brothers, to be good fathers, to be good sons. We just want them to take what we teach them here on the field and carry that over to their personal lives,” Nabbefeld said.
Morgan said his role as both a coach and a team captain helps him feel more connected to his team.
“It’s more than us coaching. We’re in the grit. We’re with them. We’re giving everything we have,” Morgan said.
The program raises money to support players who can’t afford equipment and registration fees through sponsorships and merchandise sales posted on their website.
The Capital City Lightning will kick off their inaugural season with the Great Midwest Football Conference on May 15 against the Detroit Red Doggs in Detroit.
As they prepare to enter the 10-game season, the captains of the Lightning say they’re ready to take on every new obstacle as a family.
“We’re just going to go out each week and represent Lansing the best way we can,” Carns said.
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