Phoenix's new pro sports team to 'Rise' to occasion at inaugural home opener next weekend

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GMAZ segment by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on August 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 13 at 9:28 AM

PHOENIX -- Valley fitness nuts now have a professional league of their own. Phoenix is one of eight major U.S. cities to have a National Pro Grid League, and what's unique about this team, is that it is co-ed.

The National Pro Grid League (NPGL) is the world's first professional spectator sport with co-ed teams competing in human performance races.

"We are proud Phoenix was selected as one the cities to represent the National Pro Grid League," said James Fitzgerald, Phoenix Rise owner, coach and athlete. "We believe that this league, with its team-based approach, represents the natural evolution of functional fitness competitions. Given the popularity of the sport from fitness fanatics to weekend warriors, we look forward to showcasing elite athletes racing here in the Valley."

"We moved away from bicep curls and treadmills into making those actual fitness workouts and actual competition, so that led to people competing individually and now it has blossomed into making it a more fan engagement process in a team setting so that anyone could watch this," Fitzgerald said.

The team trains in north Scottsdale and while it looks like CrossFit exercising, it actually falls into a different category. To be clear, CrossFit and the NPGL are separate entities and are not associated in any way.

“CrossFit teaches how to be fit across an entire continuum and they test for the fittest person on Earth," Fitzgerald explained. "The difference between that and what we do is a co-ed team, which is a professional sport based upon a team setting in fitness."

All NPGL teams feature five men and five women, with at least one of each being 40 years of age or older, who compete in head-to-head timed fitness competitions called "races." There are 11 races in each two-hour Grid match.

"The Grid is where athletes come together to race towards a shared destiny," the NPGL website explains. "In order to win on the Grid, everyone must work together."

The eight founding teams will compete in an abbreviated season that culminates in a single-elimination tournament for the Pinnacle Trophy in October at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

The NPGL plans to expand to 16 teams in the 2016 season.

Phoenix Rise inaugural home game
Saturday, Aug. 23, 6 p.m.
vs. DC Brawlers
Jobing.com Arena
Tickets: www.thephoenixrise.com

Tickets can be purchased at the Jobing.com Arena box office, online at Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Ticket prices start at $25 for upper level to $89 floor seating.

Keep track of the team at Facebook.com/NPFLPHX or follow it on Twitter. The handle is @PhoenixRiseNPGL.

Phoenix Rise men

  • Danny Nichols, 32, San Rafael, California
  • Marcus Filly, 29, Mill Valley, California
  • Nate Schrader, 29, Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • James Fitzgerald, 40, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Bryan Miller, 23, San Diego, California
  • Brandon Phillips, 31, Kennesaw, Georgia
  • Rasmus Wisbech Anderson, 22, San Diego, California
  • Brandon Pastorek, 29, Belvidere, Illinois
  • Cody Loeffler, 27, West Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Chris Exarhos, 42, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Phoenix Rise women

  • Amanda Goodman, 23, Central Islip, New York
  • Emily Pale, 25, West Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Alexandra LaChance, 26, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Lisa Rendic, 41, Marin, California
  • Jessica Phillips, 23, Kennesaw, Georgia
  • Valerie Calhoun, 19, Rocklin, California
  • Bjork Odinsdottir, 26
  • Melissa Popovich, 32, Huntington Beach, California
  • Shanna Duvall, 32, Ashville, North Carolina
  • Jamie Hagiya, 29, Torrance, California
  • Julie Sneed, 43, Castle Rock, Colorado

NPGL teams

  • DC Brawlers
  • San Francisco Fire
  • Philadelphia Founders
  • Boston Iron
  • Los Angeles Reign
  • New York Rhinos
  • Phoenix Rise
  • Miami Surge
 

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