The Final Four is over. What are you going to do until August?? Football, naturally.
You probably didn’t know it but the Central Texas Wolfpack were undefeated last year and are 2016 Division II National Public Safety Football League champions, and they play right next door in Cedar Park.
Across the country, 22 teams comprised of law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS have dedicated their free time, and their knees and shoulders, to raising social awareness, supporting hundreds of charities, and developing cohesion with other agencies through sport.
Defensive Lineman and Austin Police Officer Jared Retofsky lives right here in Georgetown. Before he was a member of the Wolfpack he played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the long snapper during their Superbowl LXIII win.
Officer Stephen Johnson lives in Jollyville near Cedar Park and aside from his duties with the Austin Police Department, he is also a Wide Receiver and Defensive Back for the Pack.
Johnson is in his second year with the team. He grew up in California and was pleased to be able to play five years at Kansas State University. “I was on a Big 12 Championship team and I’ve been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows,” he says. “Playing football now is an amazing thing to be able to give back to the community doing something you really love. “
Johnson says he wasn’t sure he wanted to play when he was first approached. “It was a tough call because it is still football and there is a chance I could get hurt. My career is really important to me and I was concerned about injuries that could prevent me from doing my job. The other players talked to me and when I came out to play I found it was a totally different experience than what I expected. It’s not just police but all the first responders in the area and it’s become a different kind of family for me.”
The Wolfpack has an in-state rival in the Dallas Defenders and Johnson says the teams enjoy working with working with different counties and agencies. “It’s great to network that way and we all enjoy the release football gives us from the stress of the job. You can leave it all on the field.”
Although it is a national league, players are not in it to perform and make it to some other higher level. “We are all past that. We are here because it’s our way of bringing our skills to the table to raise money for other people. We don’t get paid, we actually pay to play, and most of us use vacation time for practices or away games.”
The Wolfpack are spending alot of energy trying to get the word out about the league and the charities. This year the team is supporting the 100 Club of Central Texas and the Police Activities League and has done events for other groups like Texas Husky Rescue and Popup Birthdays, a local agency that has birthday parties for foster children.
Johnson is personally supportive of Special Olympics because it’s a joy to see anyone playing a game or demonstrating a skill. “I just love seeing kids getting outside. Plus, we are not famous football players but it’s a different kind of respect when we wear the different uniforms. Police and football players are people to look up to but for different reasons. I like that.”
The Pack invite everyone in Williamson County to come out to support the team in another bid for the championship. “I want kids, and everyone to know, that if you love something, keep looking for a way to do it. We are using our God-given gifts in a way that gives back and we hope the community will come out to see us and support us back. We also want people to know that membership is always open to those who want to play if they can get the OK from their chain of command. It’s something you don’t want to miss out on!”
See the Wolfpack at their next home game, May 20 at Gupton Stadium in Cedar Park