In case area football fans forgot the name Jonathan Ordway, they can get reacquainted Saturday when the Tampa Bay Storm take on the Orlando Predators at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Ordway reintroduced himself last week in his first game since 2008.
With the Tampa Bay Storm jockeying for important seeding in the upcoming Arena League playoffs and locked in a must-win game against Alabama last week, Ordway outjumped a Vipers receiver late in the second quarter and intercepted a pass that eventually led to a field goal just before halftime.
"That was a huge play," Storm coach Tim Marcum said, "because we scored off that and then got the ball first in the second half."
Not bad for a guy who'd been on the roster less than four days and hadn't played football in nearly two years.
Ordway, a former Armwood star, signed with the Storm last week. It's Ordway's second tour of duty with the team. He played for the Storm from 2003-06, led the team in tackles in 2006 and finished second in that category in 2004. Ordway was also a rookie on the 2003 championship team, the last year the Storm won the title.
"They'd talked to me about playing before the season started, but it wasn't a good fit then," Ordway said. "Then they called me Monday or Tuesday last week, and I decided to get out there."
Part of Ordway's decision not to play at the season's start was financial. Ordway is a personal trainer for Speed Source and trains clients out of Powerhouse Gym in South Tampa. The Storm practice at night, which conflicted with many of his student clients. But when summer rolled around, Ordway had more free time.
"I was extra busy when they asked the first time," he said. "I just couldn't make the commitment then."
With the AFL's revamped economic landscape, Ordway couldn't afford to turn down clients to play Arena football. Before the league suspended play in 2009 and filed bankruptcy, some players were pulling down salaries well into six figures.
Nearly all of the players this year make $400 a week.
"Before in the old AFL," Ordway said, "that could be your sole income."
Ordway was a tailback on the first Armwood team to reach the postseason and after graduating in 1997, he signed to play receiver at Boston College. But he thought he had a better chance at playing time by switching to defensive back, so he made the move and drew attention with his blazing speed.
"I'd never played defense until college," he said.
Like most AFL players, Ordway has bounced around throughout his professional football career. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's Detroit Lions after Boston College. Besides his four-year stint with the Storm, Ordway played for the AFL's Chicago Rush in 2007-08. Ordway also spent time in the Canadian Football League, playing for Ottawa in 2003-04.
"But I always thought I'd finish up my career here in Tampa," he said.
Ordway's family still lives in Seffner, and he stops by the school to see his old coaches and the new generation of Hawks football players.
"I'll always rep Armwood," Ordway said.
Ordway also still works out at the Hawks track, helping to train his daughter Jorian, a rising sophomore at Hillsborough. Jorian and her Terrier teammates set a school record in the 4 x 400 relay and finished 11th in the event at state.
"She's a straight-A student in the International Baccalaureate program," Ordway said. "I love being able to spend time and train with her."
When he's not picking off passes or training clients, Ordway stays busy by competing in track meets and dabbling in mixed martial arts.
"If I keep training right, I think I can be faster now at 31 than I was in college," Ordway said. "That would be something."
Have a local sports story that we should cover? Contact Brandon Wright at [email protected] for consideration.