Tyler Michaelwicz was looking for a fun summer activity after being transferred to Fort Drum last January.
He found it with the Watertown Red and Black.
Michaelwicz will make his home debut as the starting quarterback for the nations oldest semipro football team at 7 tonight against the NEPA Miners of Scranton, Pa., in an Empire Football League matchup at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Its awesome so far, Michaelwicz said. Its definitely a big stress reliever. You get out of work and rather than go choke your boss, you get out here and you get to bang around with a bunch of guys that are trying to be out here doing the same thing.
Michaelwicz had been stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, since joining the U.S. Army out of high school in 2005. He requested a transfer to Fort Drum, he said, because of the bases reputation within the military and because the area itself was attractive.
Michaelwicz is a native of Tewksbury, Mass., a small town about 20 miles north of Boston.
After taking some time to settle in, the 26-year-old Michaelwicz said he saw an online advertisement for Red and Black tryouts.
They shipped me up here real quick, so I figured I would find something to have fun with during the summer, Michaelwicz said. I figured Id show up and give it a whirl.
Aside from adult flag football leagues at Fort Hood, Michaelwicz hadnt played organized football since he graduated from Tewksbury Memorial High School, where he played quarterback for four years.
The Red and Black had a vacancy at the position after the departure of Brian Williams, so Michaelwicz joined a competition for the spot that included last years backup, Shane Slate.
I think he knows just as well as I do that a couple slip ups here and there, and the position is going to be handed over to somebody else, Michaelwicz said. So it keeps us both pushing for the positive and to keep getting better with every rep, let alone every practice.
Michaelwicz got the starting nod for the season opener last Saturday against the Syracuse Shock. In his first regular-season start in nearly nine years, he completed 3-of-13 passes for 68 yards and threw four interceptions in a 30-6 loss.
I was putting the ball where it needed to be. I made a few mistakes trying to force some plays, but I think that was just big-game jitters, trying to make something out of nothing, Michaelwicz said.
Tonight will be his second start at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, and his first in a regular-season game. He was under center for a majority of the teams 71-0 preseason loss to national powerhouse Central Penn on June 15.
The home crowd is nuts, Michaelwicz said. I saw a little bit of that in the (preseason) game, and from what the guys said that was kind of a smaller crowd. They showed up and they were behind us and thats what we need, good or bad. They were letting us know when we made mistakes and theyre sure as hell going to be behind you when you start doing stuff good.
Michaelwicz believes the team will give the home crowd more reason to cheer tonight than it did in the preseason game.
We got a lot of good athletes, a lot of good players and guys that know football, Michaelwicz added. I think our biggest issue right now is just getting it all to click. Weve only got a few games under our belt, one being preseason, so I think a little bit more time and stuff will start to mesh a little bit better.