Dave Ewart spent Wednesday afternoon driving from one athletic store to the next, searching out shoes for his team. In the cash-crunched landscape of Arena Football, even the new coach of the Tampa Bay Storm, the most decorated AFL team in history, isn't above extra responsibilities.
"Just another day at the office," said Ewart, 41, while trying desperately to find a pair of size 16 cleats for center Ryan McDonald. "Got to do a little bit of everything."
Ewart may have been picking up shoes this week, but he will be attempting to fill a big pair tonight. Ewart takes over for longtime coach and AFL Hall of Famer Tim Marcum when Tampa Bay opens its season in New Orleans.
"It's an opportunity that I am excited about," Ewart said. "This team, the tradition, the fans … there is a lot to live up to around here, and that's what we intend on doing."
Though Ewart, an assistant under Marcum and the Storm's director of player personnel since 2002, was eager to become an AFL head coach, he did so at the expense of a good friend.
"Me and (Marcum) hung out all the time and were always together. … We were like Frick and Frack," Ewart said. "As a friend, it was tough to see what happened unfold."
Marcum, the winningest coach in AFL history, resigned four days before the opening of training camp last month amid controversy surrounding racially insensitive and pornographic e-mails found on his work computer that were revealed during a deposition.
"It all happened so fast, but I didn't anticipate anything coming from it, but (Marcum) had a meeting (with the owners) and I knew something wasn't right," Ewart said. "You're talking about something that wasn't against the law. If he was a normal guy on the street what do they do? Nothing."
Ewart doubted he would be promoted to head coach.
"Any time they make a big move like that, in the back of your mind you think they got rid of a legend, why not clean everybody out?" Ewart said. "I've been in this business 17 years. I know how it works."
Though the job is now his, Ewart is far from inexperienced. He was head coach of the AFL's St. Louis Stampede (1996), Texas Terror (1997) and Florida Bobcats (2000-01) and took over as interim head coach of the Storm in 2005-06, going 3-2 while Marcum served a suspension for salary cap violations.
Still, Ewart said he has a lot to prove.
"I know I don't have the Tim Marcum name," he said. "This is definitely a dress rehearsal for me, and I understand that."
Erick McIntosh, one of just eight players returning from last season's ArenaBowl team that lost to Spokane, said the players are ready to move on.
"Coach (Ewart) is a good man and a good football coach," he said. "We, as players, respect him and will be playing hard to get this city another championship."