The NFL lockout is in full swing, but Ohio State alumnus LaMonte Coleman is working to keep football on the field in Marion, Ohio.
Coleman played running back at Division II Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa., from 1992–94, but left college to pursue a professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and several Arena Football League teams. After retiring from professional football in 2005, Coleman assumed the roles of CEO and general manager of the Continental Indoor Football League’s Marion Blue Racers — but not before he came to OSU to finish his undergraduate education.
Coleman credits his managerial career to the bachelor’s degree in sports leadership and sports humanities he received from OSU.
“My degree got me into it,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to understand sports management as a whole, including contract law, exercise science; it all mixes into one.”
Rodney Swanigan, coach for the defunct Marion Mayhem of CIFL, tried to talk Coleman into coaching.
“I said no,” Coleman said, “but he needed somebody with experience to help develop some of these young athletes.”
Shortly after Coleman accepted a position on Swanigan’s staff, the Mayhem folded.
Coleman’s chance to put his degree to work, and continue a tradition of football in Marion, proved valuable.
“I got to see how the business was run,” he said. “I started thinking about ownership, and the rest is history.”
Coleman then created a company called Run 42 Sports Group. He owns the Blue Racers and the Columbus Bills, a flag football team.
Former Bowling Green quarterback Josh Harris came out of retirement to play for the Blue Racers. Harris, who spent time in the NFL, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, said Coleman is pointing the team in the right direction.
“We have a great group of guys that we are playing with and a great group of administrators,” Harris said. “(LaMonte) is a smart guy. He is a visionary.”
First-year coach Ryan Terry, who played college football at Miami (Ohio), agreed with Harris.
“It’s been a blast,” Terry said. “(LaMonte) has shown great guidance. I have learned a lot of things as far as business savvy.”
The Blue Racers are 8-1 with one game remaining in the regular season, and soon will prepare for the playoffs, which begin Monday.
Coleman said he is confident he has the right people in place and that the Blue Racers should stay in Marion for a while.
“We are all using our experiences to be leaders in our separate positions,” he said. “It is definitely a treat for me.”