New stable to steer Mavericks onwards
Gridiron: Growing up in Alabama, American Football has always been in Jim Cobb's blood. Where he comes from "God is number one and football is number two”.
It is a sporting passion he believes can have a presence in the Sugar City, and it starts with success for the Mackay Mavericks.
It can be a tough task developing a new sport in a community typically dominated by rugby league. As Cobb put it, many athletes in town have been playing rugby codes since they were "knee-high to a grasshopper”.
But in their third season of competition, the Mavericks are progressing and their head coach said they just needed greater awareness to tap into the sporting talent in the region.
"I really think the people of Mackay are very community orientated and very proud of their sport,” Cobb said.
"The people here take their sport and community seriously, so I was really happy to have a team in Mackay. It has just gone from strength to strength; people show up, they take a professional approach to it.
"We're not getting paid, but they're happy to represent Mackay and they go out and have a good go which is all I can ask of them.”
This season the Mavericks have found a more permanent home, with Magpies Sporting Club providing Sologinkin Oval as a base.
It is this consistency that Cobb believes will be important in retaining the players they have and encouraging new ones to get on board.
He said it often took three years for muscle memory to make their performances more natural, and the experience of the formative seasons would steel them well for a successful 2019.
"Part of it was we got a lot of new talent last year. This is our third season, but half the team has only been there for a year,” Cobb said.
"They're going to get more experience and ... start to work towards getting ahead of the play. We just need to improve offensively; we have to score more points.
"A good defence is always important, but I really think our offence is lagging behind the defence at this point.”
At the team's sign-on day last Sunday, Mavericks vice president Chris Freeburn said it was their biggest turnout since the club started.
It is an exciting time for the sport in North Queensland, with a Rockhampton team joining Mackay, Townsville and Cairns for the 2019 season.
Freeburn said, to make the sport sustainable in Mackay, they had to push for more juniors and women to get involved.
He encouraged anyone interested to come down to Sologinkin Oval next Wednesday for the team's first training session of the pre-season.