Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1975-1977 Tidewater Sharks

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1975-76 Tidewater Sharks ProgramSouthern Hockey League (1975-1977)

Born: 1975 – SHL expansion franchise
Folded: January 7, 1977

Arena: Norfolk Scope

Team Colors:

Owner: Tidewater Professional Sports, Inc. (Richard Davis, et al.)

SHL Championships: None

 

The Tidewater Sharks were a short-lived franchise in the Southern Hockey League of the mid-1970’s. The SHL was the former Southern Division of the Eastern Hockey League, which seceded from that league in 1973.  The Sharks joined up as an expansion franchise two years later, taking advantage of vacant dates at the Norfolk Scope after the Virginia Wings of the American Hockey League left town in the spring of 1975.

Tidewater Professional Sports, Inc., a large consortium of local businessman headed by future Virginia Lt. Governor Richard Davis, operated the Sharks.  TPS, Inc. had operated the minor league baseball Tidewater Tides since 1963 but was unable to find similar support or stability for their minor league hockey efforts.

Midway through the Sharks’ second season in the winter of 1976-77 the Southern Hockey League began to unravel. The Greensboro Generals and Richmond Wildcats folded on January 3rd, 1977, reducing the SHL from 7 to 5 clubs. The Sharks folded four days later on January 7th, along with the Winston-Salem Polar Twins who closed up shop later the same day.  The league staggered along with 3 clubs for another couple of weeks before throwing in the towel at the end of January 1977.

 

==Links==

Southern Hockey League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

July 4th, 2016 at 4:46 pm

2000-2003 Norfolk Nighthawks

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Arena Football 2 (2000-2003)

Born: 1999 – AF2 founding franchise
Folded: December 2003

Arena: The Norfolk Scope

Team Colors:

Owners: Kenny EasleyBruce Smith

 

The Norfolk Nighthawks were one of 15 founding franchise in Arena Football 2, a lower-budget, small-market offshoot of the original Arena Football League (1987-2008).  AF2 debuted in the spring of 2000 and the Nighthawks lasted for four seasons before folding.

The franchise was owned by NFL defensive standouts Kenny Easley and Bruce Smith, who were both Virginia natives.  Easley was long retired, but Smith was still an active player at the time the Nighthawks were active.  The pair had a dispute over management of the team during the Nighthawks final season of 2003, which ultimately contributed to the dissolution of the team in December 2003.

According to the encyclopedic ArenaFan.com website, the Nighthawks averaged 4,676 fans per game at the Norfolk Scope during their four seasons of play.

The club was a winner in its debut season, going 11-7 and advancing to the semi-final round of the AF2 playoffs.  The next three seasons the Nighthawks finished 8-8 and missed the postseason.

 

==Norfolk Nighthawks Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
2000 5/20/2000  vs. Roanoke Steam  W 59-39 Program Game Notes

 

==Links==

Arena Football 2 Media Guides

Arena Football 2 Programs

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Written by AC

August 6th, 2013 at 11:42 pm

2011-2012 Norfolk SharX

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Major Indoor Soccer League (2011-2012)

Born: January 25, 2011 – USL I-League expansion franchise.
Folded: June 25, 2012

Arena: The Norfolk Scope

Team Colors:

Owner: Marcie Laumann

MISL Championships: None

 

The Norfolk SharX were a failed pro indoor soccer entry in the Major Indoor Soccer League.  The SharX limped through a single season of play before folding due to financial problems.

The SharX originated as an expansion franchise in a planned new pro indoor league called the “I-League”, organized by the United Soccer Leagues (USL).   The USL was a long-time player in amateur and low-level professional soccer in the United States, serving as an umbrella organization for various men’s and women’s leagues.  The frontwoman for the SharX ownership group was Marcie Laumann, the veteran operator of the Hampton Roads Piranhas women’s amateur side in the USL, and a member of the USL’s Hall of Fame.  Laumann announce the formation of the SharX in January 2011.

By May of 2011, the I-League attracted only three committed franchises: the SharX, the Rochester Lancers and the Syracuse Silver Knights.  Meanwhile, the long-running Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) was floundering with only four clubs.  The two leagues agreed to merge with the USL taking over administration of the beleaguered MISL for the 2011-12 season.   The MISL identity was retained by the merged loop and the “I-League” name was scrapped.

The SharX never found their footing either on the carpet or with local fans.  They finished the 2011-12 season with the worst record (5-19) in the MISL and the lousiest attendance (1,596 per game announced).

The team folded after a single season of play on June 25, 2012 citing “economic hardship”.

 

Norfolk SharX Video

2011 Norfolk SharX introductory press conference

 

 

Links

Indoor Soccer 2001-Present Media Guides

Indoor Soccer 2001-Present Programs

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Written by AC

May 27th, 2013 at 1:17 am

1984 Virginia Wave

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Virginia Wave

Women’s American Basketball Association (1984)

Born: 1984 – WABA founding franchise
Folded: November 30, 1984

Arena: The Norfolk Scope

Team Colors: Orange & Navy Blue

Owner: ???

 

The Virginia Wave was a short-lived franchise in the all-but-forgotten Women’s American Basketball Association which operated in the autumn of 1984.

The WABA was the brainchild of Bill Byrne, a Columbus, Ohio-based sports promoter who had launched the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (men’s softball) and the original Women’s Professional Basketball League (WPBL) in the late 1970’s.  The WPBL flamed out in 1981 after completing its third season and the WABA represented Byrne’s attempt to learn from the mistakes of the first league and to capitalize on the expected Gold Medal performance of the U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball team at the 1984 Los Angeles summer games.

Announced in March 1984, Byrne’s initials plans called for a summer-time league, composed of 8-12 franchises playing a 22-game schedule.  Individual player salaries would range from $5,000 to $10,000  and total annual operating budgets were pegged around $300,000.  But Byrne’s plans and financial backing were in constant flux.  The planned summer schedule was quickly pushed back to the fall.  Nine cities were represented at the WABA’s college and veteran draft in Columbus on April 25th, 1984, but only five of these cities made it to the opening bell in October.

“Bill Byrne was having difficulty getting owners to put up the money for all the teams,” recalled Columbus Minks player Molly Bolin, who lived with the Byrne family during the 1984 season. “He would not let that stop him and believed that if he got the league started, people would believe and the money would fall into place.”

The Norfolk Scope – Photo courtesy of Sevenvenues.com

One of the cities that fell by the wayside was Baltimore, Maryland.  The unnamed Baltimore team took part in the WABA draft in April 1984, selecting two-time Clemson University All-American Barbara Kennedy with its first round selection.  Long-time Morgan State men’s basketball Head Coach Nat Frazier signed on to coach the squad and serve as General Manager.  But in mid-September 1984, less than a month before the start of the season, the WABA pulled out of Baltimore and relocated the franchise to Norfolk, Virginia and the city’s 10,000-seat Norfolk Scope.  The Scope was the home of the powerhouse Old Dominion University women’s basketball program, which had produced one of the women’s game’s greatest early stars, Nancy Lieberman, who played for the WABA’s Dallas Diamonds franchise.  The league hoped local enthusiasm for ODU women’s hoops would rub off on the WABA brand.  The team would be called the Virginia Wave.

The WABA’s chaotic pre-season carried over into a dysfunctional, under-capitalized season that launched with six teams on October 9th, 1984.  Wave players, along with players on the Atlanta Comets and Columbus Minks, did not receive paychecks.  With the exception of the Dallas Diamonds franchise, crowds of 500 or less were the norm throughout the league.

Lacking funds for air travel, the Wave endured epic bus trips, including a brutal late November swing that took the club from Atlanta (where less than 100 fans turned out) to Dallas to Houston for three games in four days.  As it turned out, these would be the Wave’s final games:

“The players and I were discouraged prior to <the Dallas> game because we had not been paid for the season.  We talked to our coach and he assured us that we would be paid prior to game,” recalled Wave captain Barbara Kennedy.  “So we played professionally and fought hard to beat Dallas.  When we returned back to Virginia, we thought that the check was valid but it was not good.  Then immediately we checked out of the hotel and departed to our destinations.  Again, we lifted our heads and left Virginia but <it was> bitter because we were losing our passion for the game, leaving our teammates and starting over.  That was a sad day for us.”

On November 28th, 1984 Byrne announced that six to twelve games would be cut from the end of the WABA regular season schedule.

The following day, disgruntled WABA investors led by Dallas owner and league finance committee chaiman Ed Dubaj forced Byrne to resign.  Dubaj shuttered the league office in Columbus and immediately cancelled the remaining games of the three most financially troubled franchises – Atlanta, Columbus and the Wave.   The Wave finished their only campaign with a 5-9 record, eight games shy of completing their 22-game schedule.  A Dallas Diamonds official told United Press International that crowds in Virginia “went from 100 to 1,000”.

The WABA made brave noises about returning in 1985 with a new league office in Dallas led by Dubaj, but was never heard from again after a hastily scheduled championship game between the Dallas Diamonds and Chicago Spirit in December 1984.

“We laughed, cried and were grateful for the experiences and memories,” said Barbara Kennedy in 2011.  “We certainly wanted to finish the season but the league had some challenges.  But what I can say is that my teammates were close and stayed strong throughout the time and we will always remember our times together and remember <that> we were pioneers.  I am proud of my teammates, our coach, the league and thankful for the opportunity, the resources and the many memories…I loved all my experiences.”

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Barbara Kennedy-Dixon was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002.  Today she is Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women’s Administrator at her alma mater, Clemson University.

 

==Interviews==

2011 Interview with Wave forward Barbara Kennedy-Dixon

 

==Downloads==

1984 Virginia Wave Game Program & Roster

Virginia Wave Article Sources

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