(BALTIMORE) - The Baltimore Lightning sports leadership organization announced today they have partnered with Developmental Football International LLC (DFI) in the launch of a scalable franchise platform designed to produce 'Game-Ready Players' and 'Life-Ready Men ™.'
Baltimore became DFI’s second addition to its Atlantic Coast Conference, when the league confirmed that Will Hanna II, managing general partner of HMG Sports Marketing, has been approved for ownership.
DFI approval requires a thorough review of an owner’s personal and business history, player development processes, technical abilities, fiscal responsibility, career trajectory, and social and civic responsibility.
Mr. Hanna, who heads the non-profit New Park Heights Community Development Corporation, Inc., in Northwest Baltimore, served the Department of Justice for over a decade. He is a decorated Gulf combat veteran who also served 11 years in the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command.
The New Park Heights CDC, Inc. is credited with the founding of the Park Heights Merchants Association, with over 700 businesses in the community. The organization has also developed a faith-based coalition of over 70 churches and religious institutions.
The NPHCDC, Inc. also founded the very first affordable housing community land trust in the State of Maryland for the Park Heights community and is the trustee of The Baltimore City Affordable Housing Community Land Trust.
DFI, which notably includes the SoCal Coyotes, America's #1 Developmental Football Program™, will play an eight-game schedule, with additional playoffs, in fall 2018.
Baltimore is the 21st largest populous area in the United States, and the second-largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic. The Lightning will play its games at turf-field 3,500-capacity Frederick Douglass High School, built in 2015 by Under Armour.
For the sake of parity, and consistency, DFI enforces zero tolerance policies and full compliance of DFI's suite of franchise operating guidelines. DFI heavily weighs an owner’s commitment to community integration.
The Baltimore Lightning has partnered with more than 15 youth organizations totaling over 3,000 children in its Junior Lightning Program and has pending partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools.
It works closely with the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, through which Lightning players and staff will implement DFI’s award-winning “Above the Line” program.
The Lightning have pledged 10 student-athlete scholarships to prep athletes at Frederick Douglass High School, the epicenter of a community uprising in 2015.
"For us to bring our professional football program, along with implementation of DFI's "Above the Line" program, will help reignite a community in need of hope," Mr. Hanna said.
In addition to developing elite pro football prospects, the Lightning organization is “far more than football,” he added. “What we are doing impacts generations of young men and their families. We’re developing not only good athletes, but also great men.”
MORE ABOUT THE BALTIMORE LIGHTNING
The Baltimore Lightning’s colors are forest green, yellow and black. The team’s logo has an insert of the City of Baltimore’s flag, denoting the team’s dedication to “Charm City.”
The Baltimore Lightning enters DFI as one of the nation’s first premier developmental football organizations. Founded in 2016, the Lightning have highlighted some of the most prominent athletes in the country.
The Baltimore Lightning’s entire staff are all former military and exemplary of the high moral standards of the league and making young men, “Ready Day One!”
HMG Sports is responsible for developing and advancing dozens of pro prospects to professional opportunities, the focal point of Mr. Hanna’s storied career. In 2016, Mr. Hanna was inducted into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame.
MORE ABOUT DFI
DFI (developmentalfootball.com) is the first premier American developmental football organization engineered to cultivate the annual flow of 16,000 Division I, II, and III prospects, who must thread an NFL or CFL needle of opportunity that combined only turn over roughly 250 jobs each year.
'Above the Line' leadership development is a Chief Cornerstone of DFI, where becoming a "Game-Ready Player' also requires a 'Life-Ready Man™.'
DFI teams all share the same contracts and policies, including those for Code of Conduct and Social Media. The league plays by NFL rules, with NFL-style uniforms, and teaching from veteran NFL coaches and players.