De­mo­li­tion are up for just that

Women’s foot­ball team opens sea­son tonight against Preda­tors with chips on its shoul­der.

The Detroit News - - Game Plan - By Terry Fos­ter

LIVO­NIA — You might see some at­ti­tude when the Detroit De­mo­li­tion kick off their sea­son at 7 tonight at Livo­nia Steven­son High School. The team still is peeved about los­ing last sea­son’s In­de­pen­dent Women’s Foot­ball League cham­pi­onship — snap­ping a 52-game win­ning streak — and could take it out on the Detroit Preda­tors.

You also will see gen­uine grat­i­tude from the 42 De­mo­li­tion play­ers, who are ap­pre­cia­tive they’ll be play­ing at all.

By the end of last sea­son, mount­ing ex­penses and time de­mands nearly over­whelmed team owner Rich Rosen. It seemed likely the team would fold.

That’s when De­mo­li­tion quar­ter­back Kim Gro­dus be­gan mak­ing pub­lic pleas for help. She did not want to see her ca­reer end. De­spite four cham­pi­onships in five sea­sons, she was hun­gry for more.

Jeff Rose, owner of J.R. Char­ter Ser­vices of Novi, saw Gro­dus’ plea dur­ing a lo­cal television seg­ment this spring. Rose, his son Kevin and Rosen formed a com­pany, R&R Sports En­ter­tain­ment, to run the team.

“It just seemed like some­thing to do,” Jeff Rose said. “Our com­pany is pretty suc­cess­ful, and we spend zero on ad­ver­tis­ing. I fig­ured it would be good pro­mo­tion for us. I am not a big sports fan, but Kevin is, and he is en­thused about do­ing this. It was for Kevin’s love of the game, and I fig­ured we could use a lit­tle pro­mo­tion =, so why not make it hap­pen?”

Kevin Rose will be gen­eral man­ager.

“I am so thank­ful and so ap­pre­cia­tive that this team can go back to con­cen­trat­ing on win­ning cham­pi­onships in­stead of hav­ing the stress of hav­ing to fig­ure out how the next bill is go­ing to be paid,” Gro­dus said. “We can now con­cen­trate on what we wanted to do all along, and that is play and win cham­pi­onships.”

Kevin Rose, a diehard Li­ons fan, said since the Li­ons are not go­ing to al­low him to re­place Matt Millen, this is the next best thing.

“My over­all goal is to fill the sta­dium and make the De­mo­li­tion more known through­out Detroit,” he said. “I want their play­ers rec­og­niz­able around the com­mu­nity.”

The loss in the cham­pi­onship game to At­lanta cre­ated more ur­gency, which is why the play­ers fought to keep the team go­ing.

“It was dif­fi­cult on the whole or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing my­self,” coach Tony Blanken­ship said. “I re­mem­ber watch­ing Michael Jor­dan and Isiah Thomas and how im­por­tant it was for them to win a cham­pi­onship. To lose one leaves a heck of a neg­a­tive feel­ing in your spirit. You want to be able to leave on a note of your own.”

So, Gro­dus and line­backer Tammy Lowrey-Rid­g­ley spent the off­sea­son as co-gen­eral man­agers, while tail­back Kiana Den­nis worked on graphic de­signs to pro­duce a pro­gram and tick­ets.

“Al­though we have fewer num­bers, I be­lieve this is our strong­est group,” Gro­dus said. “The (16) rook­ies lack foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence, they are ex­tremely coach­able and they are learn­ing very quickly. The in­ten­sity level is higher than ever.”

Gro­dus’ drive to keep the team afloat did not sur­prise Blanken­ship. He said he sees it on the field ev­ery day.

“It is in her,” Blanken­ship said. “She has a spe­cial gift when it comes to lead­er­ship and be­ing in con­trol and play­ing a fac­tor in some­thing that is good.”

Gro­dus was an all-state soft­ball player at Ster­ling Heights High, where she also played bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball. She played soft­ball at West­ern Michi­gan Univer­sity. You can reach Terry Fos­ter at (313) 222-1494 or terry.fos­ter@det­news.com.

Gary Malerba/Spe­cial to The Detroit News De­mo­li­tion co-gen­eral man­ager/quar­ter­back Kim Gro­dus, right, of­fers en­cour­age­ment to Michele Lewis Watts, 34, of South­field.

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