I always like telling this story since it contains irony, comedy, and of course, it is where everything started.
Every year, like most people who love playing football, some friends and I enjoyed getting together during November to smack each other around in what we called “Turkey Bowl.” Everyone would either come as a team or pick sides and we would play a couple of games of tackle football on the morning of Thanksgiving Day (I know it sounds crazy, but we did it without pads and helmets!) This was a ritual that we upheld after college in 1995 until about 2001 when I meet some new friends at the gym.
Working out by yourself can sometimes be aggravating when you need a spotter to get out that last rep. I usually worked out by myself until one day I asked someone for a spot on one of my lifts. This person, Mike Saglin, was at the gym everyday at the same time as I was and after talking we decided to work out together with his friend Darren Darst. Mike, Darren, and I worked out together for a couple of months when one day, by chance, we ended up parking next to each other in a very crowded parking lot. As we walked out of the gym and put our bags in our cars, I noticed something in Mike’s trunk. He had a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet. I asked him, “what, do you have your high school football stuff?” He answered, “no, I play semi-pro football!”
Mike and Darren played for a now defunct team called the Waukesha Devils in the Ironman Football League. I had to go see them play and find out how my friends and I could join. After finding some information out on the league and this team, we ended up thinking it might be a better idea to form our own team. The league was in it’s sixth year of existence and after attending some meetings, with the leagues owner Chris Chudada, we decided that we would have to get started immediately if we wanted to join the league for the 2002 season.
A lot of people get together and hang out with their family, eat dinner, maybe have a few drinks and talk. My family and I are of no exception to this great American pastime. One weekend I found myself at my brother Dale Medrano’s house, having a lot of dinner, a lot of drinks, and talking a lot about starting a new franchise in the IFL. I can remember talking with Dale about everything from who we could recruit for our team to what our logo would be. Being comic fans in general (Spider-man being the favorite of both of ours) and after doing some searches on the internet, we found that no football team had a spider for a logo. That being settled among many other facets of how we would run our new team, we found ourselves looking out the window and seeing the sun come up! When Dale’s wife Amy and my then girlfriend (now wife) Zaleta woke up, we showed them what we came up with and asked what they thought. Zaleta spoke up first when she saw the plain, big black spider drawing of our logo, kind of laughing, and said, “what are you going to call it? The Milwaukee Venom or something?” I said, “yeah right, that’s……………..Oh, that’s hot!”
Our logo at that time was just a plain spider with the words Milwaukee Venom across the top and definitely need some work! Justin Gesell, my now brother-in-law, has always had an attention to detail with an artistic flair. Without even asking him, he came to my house after seeing the logo with his own rendition of the spider. He added the “MV” marking on it’s chest to set it off and after seeing it, I knew we had something going. After some work with the “Milwaukee Venom” text above the spider, we had reached what we all know as our logo of today.
You have to be a little off center to put yourself in harms way in order to have “fun” while playing a game. Recruiting people to play on a semi-pro team is probably the hardest thing to do when you are first starting out. In the beginning, we started with 107 names and numbers of friends, family, and friends of friends. Anyone that has put together a party or some other get together knows that when you invite 100 people you can count on 50 showing up. Recruiting people to play proved to have a much lower percentage! In the end, we had 28 men on our official roster for the IFL’s 2002 season.
Much of what happened in our quest to start a team had to do with what most would call luck. Here at The Milwaukee Venom we don’t believe in serendipity, but only in when opportunity meets preparation. This is our team history and that history changes with every passing day. Although this is where we started, the rest of our more current history can be found within the pages of this web site.
Thank-you for taking the time to find out about our history – see you on the gridiron,
Co-owner Milwaukee Venom