RIVERSIDE – For many aspiring athletes, sports are about chasing a dream.
In the case of the Chicago Mustangs semi-pro football team, it’s all about hanging onto that dream for as long as possible.
The Mustangs, owned and coached by Riverside resident Edward Chapp, play in the Midstates Football League. They play home games at Riverside Brookfield High School.
Chapp got into coaching for a youth program and then was a chaplain in arena football for three years. That wasn’t enough to give him his football fix.
“I decided to get more involved at my own level and start my own team,” Chapp said.
Thus, the Mustangs were formed. After playing at Morton West in Berwyn for a year, Chapp moved the team to RB because he wanted to bring the team to his community.
The players aren’t paid professionals, but rather working adults looking to keep playing organized football.
“This is just for myself and for the players,” Chapp said. “It’s something we do for fun.”
Local players make up the majority of the roster. Some played high-level college football and just want to keep playing. Others didn’t even play college ball, and some of the players still have college eligibility and are trying to find their way onto a team.
The Mustangs have a full 60-man roster, but the difficult part isn’t getting players; it’s getting good players.
“Typically in the beginning of the year or early on when we start working out ,you will get an influx of a lot of players,” Chapp said. “Most of them might not be the highest caliber athlete. As real practice begins, the water and the oil kind of separate themselves, and a lot of those guys begin to drop off. It’s tough to keep even the better quality players because we all have lives and jobs and families.”
Chapp works a 9-to-5 job in the printing industry as well as balancing his time with the Mustangs. While he said the team has had its ups and downs since its 2009 formation, things have steadied in the past couple years.
The toughest part remains monetary support. The Mustangs have to pay for uniforms, travel expenses for out-of-state road trips as well as facility fees.
“It’s a sport that we need to find ways as a team to support itself,” Chapp said. “It’s pretty much a year-round thing because even when we’re in the offseason, we’re still trying to do events and recruit players and work on conditioning.”
Ultimately, it’s a small price to pay.
“The best thing about it is building the relationships with the people we work with,” Chapp said.