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GROUNDED with Coach Ismail

GROUNDED with Head Coach Ameer Ismail

In March, the Iowa Barnstormers players and coaches were traveling to their first game on the road, while the staff was busy in Des Moines finalizing details to welcome fans to Wells Fargo Arena for the home opener the following week. Reports of Covid-19’s rapid spread were covering the news channels, causing worry for what was to come of the 2020 season.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, businesses began closing their doors and concerts and sporting events were postponed or canceled. The Indoor Football League was given no choice but to halt the season for the safety of the teams, staffs, and fans.

The Iowa Barnstormers were not able to take off, the season was grounded, and as quarantine swept across the nation so were the players, coaches, and staff.

In the fall of 2019, the Iowa Barnstormers announced the hiring of Ameer Ismail as Head Coach for the 2020 season. Coach Ismail immediately got to work signing players, hiring his coaching staff, and creating plays for a winning season. Coach Ismail had already held Training Camp, selected his final roster, and was en route to the first game of the season when the unexpected happened; robbing him of his official debut with the Barnstormers.

With the disappointment of a lost season looming overhead, Coach Ismail headed home to enter quarantine and spend quality time with his family.

“I have been focused on family, staying safe, and learning and growing as much as I can to be a better person and a better coach,” said Coach Ismail of his time being grounded.

While the quarantine has given Coach Ismail the opportunity to spend lots of quality time with his family; he has not lost sight of his goals as Head Coach of the Iowa Barnstormers, quickly turning his vision toward the 2021 season.

“I have been continuously recruiting as that is a big part of coaching. Finding areas I can get better as a coach and where we can get better as a team,” said Coach Ismail. “That and continuously staying in contact with my guys to make sure they are well and helping them do things in the off-season to make them even more prepared for when we play again.”

Recruiting, studying film, and writing plays are not the only ways in which Coach has been preparing for the season, focusing on his physical fitness as well. Quarantine has forced many athletes to get creative when it comes to working out and staying in shape, including the coaches. While Coach Ismail stated that he has missed the gym the most during this unprecedented time and plans to get a long gym session in when things return to the new normal, he has made the most of it and found new ways to stay active.

“I have some old adjustable dumbbells in the basement that I’ve been using and my buddy has an outdoor fitness ranch about 30 minutes away from me with tires, hills, and heavy stones that I have been creative with. I have also picked up pickleball which is pretty fun.”

When asked what he feels he has learned about himself during quarantine, Coach Ismail simply responded “I need competition and physical activity.” Noting that picking up pickleball has provided him with that competitiveness while also keeping him active and in shape.

Aside from pickleball and focusing on the 2021 season, Coach Ismail has also accomplished other tasks during his time in quarantine. “I read a few books, learned a few more computer skills, have been teaching my daughter to be bilingual, and have significantly improved the landscape around my home.”

Eager for the start of the 2021 season, Coach Ismail is ready to return to Des Moines and make his long-awaited debut as Head Coach of the Iowa Barnstormers.

“I am ready to get after it and help my staff and players be the best they can and to promote them to get opportunities in the NFL, CFL, and soon to be XFL.”

The season is set to kick off in March of 2021.


What shows did you binge?
"Ozark, Outlander, The Umbrella Academy, NARCOS"

How is your Animal Crossing Island? 

What are your favorite quarantine snacks?
"Chickpea vegan puffs and Ope’s Cookies"

Did you bake any kind of bread in quarantine?
"No, but I became a better cook. I make great pancakes and omelettes which I was always good at, but I’m even better now."

Did you learn any TikTok dances?

Did you build anything during quarantine?
"A basement gym area and a lawn."


Written by: Juli Pettit


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