Indoor and arena football has been active in the St. Charles County area for the better part of 25 years.
In March, a new player will enter into the world of indoor football as the Gateway BlueJackets take the field for their inaugural season in St. Peters.
The BlueJackets are the brainchild of Lin Hart Jr., owner, and coach of the team.
Hart, who served on the St. Louis Stampede staff as an executive in the spring of 2019, has been involved in the game as a player, scout, coach, or front office executive since 2001.
After spending some time with and leaving the St. Louis Stampede last year, he felt it was the perfect time to step out and run a club from the ground up.
“We basically started the team because I’ve been in a lot of organizations over the past 15 years [or so] and I just decided after the last situation that happened with the St. Louis Stampede after spending so much time with that that I was going to move forward,” Hart said. “I have Arena experience and Indoor experience at almost every level and no is doing what we are doing at this level [in the area].”
Hart, who also scouts part-time for the Witchita Force of the Champions Indoor Football League [CIFL], credited Witchita Coach Pat Pimmel with giving him the drive and inspiration to start the club.
“I spent a full year talking with Coach Pimmel weekly,” Hart said. “I used him to understand how you put it all together and win. He simply said you’re more than ready.”
That led Hart to start recruiting and trying out players last June and building his roster of 25 players from then forward.
One of the first eight players that were recruited into the fold who is bullish on the stability of the team and organization is 32-yard old defensive end/fullback from St. Charles, Brett Goeke.
Goeke, an Army veteran from Orchard Farm High, has played for nine years and he said the BlueJackets has been a breath of fresh air from the previous five teams he played with before.
“This is my first year [playing] as an arena player,” Goeke said. “I’m a little bit older than some of these young guys, but I’ve got something that a lot of these guys don’t have in terms of fearlessness. The first thing I noticed about this day one [with the BlueJackets] was [Hart] wanted good character. All of these guys are about the team first and just doing whatever it takes for the team to get better and for the team to win.”
Goeke is excited to be a part of the BlueJackets and is looking forward to the first season on the field.
“Of all the five teams I’ve been with, I haven’t been a part of anything like this at all,” Goeke said. “It’s definitely unique and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Hart noted that the majority of the BlueJackets’ 25-player roster is comprised of players that have served in the military.
“We like having the guys with the military backgrounds because they are punctual, they put in the work, and they are focused [on winning],” Hart said.
The BlueJackets will begin to play this spring as a lower level developmental team in the Impact Developmental Football League [IDFL]. Hart said he was invited to participate in the league last year by IDFL President Randall Fields from Omaha, Nebraska.
At this time, the league in addition to the BlueJackets, other teams in the league include the Kentuckiana Kurse from Kentucky, Southland Power from Chicago, the Great Lakes Phoenix from Northern Illinois, and the Louisville Kings from Kentucky.
The team will play a 10-game regular-season schedule starting in March and will have two rounds of playoffs and the season will end in June with the IDFL National Championship game on June 6. All games will be played on Saturday nights.
Hart is looking forward to developing area players and the team as a potential long-term family-oriented business with controlled growth.
“We want to build a solid organization that is starting on a bit smaller level that we go grow through controlled growth and have my family involved in it for a long time to come,” Hart said.
Hart said that the BlueJackets will play five home games this spring at Matheson Square Garden in St. Peters and it will be the home for the team offices and home games during the season. The venue has a newly installed turf designed for indoor football and seats 500 for game days.
Gateway began its official field workouts on Jan. 27. The BlueJackets will open the season at home at Matheson Square Gardens in St. Peters on March 7 with a 7 p.m. game against the Louisville Kings.
For more information on the team, visit www.facebook.com/jbluejacketsindoorfootball.