Practice Makes Perfect
By Cassie Kickert

Although the air outside was cold Thursday night, action on the St. Paul Pioneers’ practice field was heating up. Players new and old to the squad are getting ready for the season opener May 5.

Running back DeMario Walton is returning for a third year with the Pioneers.

His favorite thing about being a Pioneer is the “camaraderie and togetherness of the team. [Being able to] be a part of the team coming together as the season goes on.”

Those watching practice can see it happening already as players cheer on and encourage one another.

“Everybody’s on the same page. Everybody wants to win,” Walton said.

Before coming to the Pioneers, Walton played for the former Minneapolis Lumberjacks.

He attended college at Southwest Minnesota State University and played for the Mustangs. In fact, in 1997, he had three 100-yard rushing games for the Mustangs. He was also a four year letterwinner at SMSU.

Andre Spencer is another familiar face to the Pioneers. Spencer has been with the team since 2009.

When asked to recall his favorite memory as a Pioneer, he went back to the game before the 2009 NAFL championship game against the Bellingham (Wash.) Bulldogs.

He remembers that game because of “the adversity [the Pioneers] had to go through to get to the championship game.”

In that game, the Pioneers led 13-0 at one point in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would attempt two comebacks but ultimately fall short. In the final minutes of the game, the Pioneers made two goal line stands on defense to secure the victory. They did it all while missing key starters.

Spencer played three years with the Duluth Shoremen before joining the Pioneers. He attended college at Mesabi Community College in Northern Minnesota.

This season is bound to be different than the 2009 season; however, the goal remains the same: to win a championship. Looking toward that goal, the Pioneers will continue practicing every Thursday night in preparation for the upcoming season.

Come join the excitement!