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Spokane Shock

Shock "all in" for championship

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The Shock open their season on March 24 at Cleveland. The Shock open their season on March 24 at Cleveland.

Somewhere to the east of downtown Spokane, just off I-90, in the middle of an assortment of warehouses and empty fields, sits a long, white building. The inside shows walls of bare aluminum and the ceiling is lower than it appears from the outside.

But inside, more than 20 men have on shoulder pads, jerseys and helmets. Players are split into groups by position and have scattered throughout the football field that barely fits inside the building, running through drills. There's whooping and hollering, there's high fives and back slaps, there's smiles and frustration.

This is day three of the Spokane Shock training camp. Just the first day with pads and the competition is already fierce.

"The energy's great, great group of guys out here -- hardworking guys, doing everything they're asked to do," second-year head coach Andy Olson said. "Competition's been fierce the last three days. Today was awesome, getting the pads on. Everybody's been working extremely hard and I'm very proud of everyone, so far."

Olson has implemented an element of daily competition within the larger context of players trying to make the final roster. The goal is twofold: Competition brings camaraderie and it simulates the feeling of game situations when something is on the line, Olson said.

Much of the team is already familiar with each other, as a large contingency of last year's squad returns for the 2013 campaign. But with an influx of talented young newcomers, the veterans could be pushed for roster spots. Final roster cuts have to be made by March 17, and many players that are in camp now will not be on the team when the season starts for the Shock on March 24 in Cleveland.

"It's going to be tough for everybody to make the team," said veteran quarterback Erik Meyer, who has completely healthy after dealing with injuries the past two seasons. "We got a lot of young rookies that you know can play and that are hungry to make the team. We got a lot of veterans who know the game and have some experience. Some older guys, but we still think we can run with the young guys."

"There's some guys out here who can tell that their position is being pushed," Olson said. "They can feel it, you can see them step their game up a little bit and get a little uncomfortable. We need that to keep everybody on their toes."

When the final roster is set, the focus will entirely be on the end goal: to win a championship. The Shock won the ArenaBowl in their first season in the Arena Football League in 2010, but missed the playoffs for the first time last year, despite a 10-8 record.

"As far as us as a team, just concentrating to attention to detail," defensive back Terrance Sanders said. "I think small things, small things between 10-8 and 12-6. We just going to hopefully capitalize, get three more wins out of the deal by focusing on the small, attention to the detail."

Last season's disappointment has helped cultivate the motto for this year, "all in."

"I think every coach should have the goal of winning a championship every year," Olson said. "If you're not, you shouldn't be coaching. We are doing nothing but looking for success. We want to win every week, every game. Championship is the only thing we're talking about, we're not going to set the bar any lower than that."

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