After more than a decade on the sidelines, Anthony LaManna decided to get back in the game. The starting kicker on CUA’s 1987 football team, LaManna missed playing his senior year because of a nagging injury and off-campus housing that made it difficult to get to practices. In the years after graduating, watching college and professional football games on TV was difficult for him at times.
“I felt that I needed to finish what I started,” says the 1989 alumnus, who lives in York, Pa.
Finally, when he was 34, his love of the game got him back on the field. “I just went out one day and started kicking the ball around. I’m actually much stronger now than I was during college because I’m bigger,” he says. He attributes his strength to weightlifting and karate, in which he has a black belt.
LaManna found a place on a minor league team, the Arbutus Big Red, a Baltimore-area team in the Mason-Dixon Football League. The Big Red used to be the most popular football team in the Baltimore area before the NFL’s Colts came to the city in 1947, LaManna says.
The league competes from Maryland down into the Carolinas. Each team plays 10 games from July to September, with playoffs beginning in October. Teams might compete in a football stadium with a couple thousand spectators one week and on a middle school field with 100 people in the crowd the next. Some of the best players go on to play in the Arena Football League. One of LaManna’s teammates made it to the Canadian Football League.
Players don’t get paid to play. In fact, uniforms, playing fields and any other extras must be paid for via team dues and fundraisers. But the rewards for LaManna have been real, if intangible.
“Once I joined the Big Red, I was hooked,” he says.
At 40 years old, he’s the oldest person on the team, competing against players in their 20s and 30s. But his age hasn’t kept him from excelling. In 2006, he made 24 of his 27 point-after attempts, punted the ball an average of 37 yards and made two-thirds of his field goal attempts. Because of his success, LaManna earned a spot as the kicker for the Southeast Football League team in the Sunshine Bowl, a national minor league all-star game in Homestead, Fla. This past May he also played in his own league’s all-star game in Cleveland.
“Physically, I could play until I’m 50. But I have to juggle commitments, like my two young children and a job,” says the insurance underwriter. LaManna says his wife Andrea, who ran track at Shippensburg University, has been extremely supportive.
“The best thing about it is just being able to keep playing the game,” he says. — L.C.
Back to top