Alabama Steel looks to kick off season
By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Grace Brister
The Alabama Steel is getting ready to start its season and hopes to provide opportunities for players after high school.
The Steel is part of the Independent American Football League X and will play home games at Tuscaloosa County High School.
Team Operations Director Kristi Eiland said that she loves how the organization has a heart for the athletes.
“Our goal is to bridge from where they are to where they want to be,” Kristi Eiland said. “We’ve got guys from all different ages. Living here in Titletown, their identity, a lot is going to be tied to their talent. Once that’s gone, a lot of them don’t know what to do. We hope to provide that and really kind of love on them, pour into them and then absolutely just create an environment where they know that their talent is not their only worth.”
Alabama Steel head coach Le’Von Pears said he’s seen a lot of growth on the team.
“We feel like this is our season, Pears said. “I want to have something the community can be proud of. This is a family.”
Team Co-Owners Donnie Lee Junior and Linda Lee say this is a unique way for players to further their football career.
“Outside of the last few years, there were no second chances if you didn’t make it to the NFL, the CFL, you essentially were done with your career,” Donnie Lee Jr. said. “I think they have done a great job of providing an opportunity for these athletes.”
Donnie Lee Jr. said the opportunities the Steel gives players is life changing. When they talk to colleges, a lot of them are asking more film on the players they are recruiting because players are coming from the transfer portal with a lot of film.
Jeffrey Eiland said this gives them another chance to grow in many aspects of the player’s lives.
“You can see some of the biggest growth in these guys over the years,” Jeffrey Eiland said. “My favorite thing about it is the camaraderie that we have when we come together. We are just a big family, we joke, we we play around, (we) take things serious when it needs to be taken seriously. We try to make better men out of them on and off the field.”
Jeffrey Eiland said he got the name “Alabama Steel” from the Nucor Technical Academy in Tuscaloosa. He said that the company gets metals from all over the world.
“You get those different metals and steel, little pieces from different places,” Jeffrey Eiland said. “You get guys from one part of the city, this part of the city, and we got guys from Greensboro, we got a guy from Mississippi, and when you pull those guys together that makes steel, and you put them in the gridiron. That’s what makes steel. That’s what makes us family. That’s what makes us friends. That’s how we we communicate with each other, being strong and helping each other.”
Running back Willie Layton is entering his fourth year with the Alabama Steel, and he said his goal for the season is to be the best caption to uplift the players.
“There are a lot of opportunities playing with the Alabama steel,” Layton said. “It’s a great community within itself. They show a lot of love, even outside of football. They want to know what’s going on in your life. Not everyone has that, and that’s something that most of us need.”
Linebacker Darrell Wallace previously played professional football in Mexico, and won a championship with his team in Mexico, and he wants to see the Alabama Steel do the same.
“This year I want to be more competitive,” Wallace said. “I want them to know what its like to win a championship.”
The Alabama Steel will play its first game of the season March 4 at Wildcat Stadium.