Former Bulldogs Leading W.M. ThunderHawks

Former Bulldogs Nate Fricke & Jim Skodak are playing for the West Michigan ThunderHawks (Photos courtesy of West Michigan ThunderHawks)
Former Bulldogs Nate Fricke & Jim Skodak are playing for the West Michigan ThunderHawks (Photos courtesy of West Michigan ThunderHawks)

Big Rapids, Mich. - A trio of former Ferris State University football players are currently playing key roles in helping the Indoor Football League's (IFL) newly-relocated West Michigan ThunderHawks off to their best start in franchise history.

The Bulldog alumni trio of quarterback Dan Richard (1999-00), defensive back Jim Skodak (2002-06) and wide receiver Nate Fricke (2004-07) have helped fuel the Grand Rapids-based ThunderHawks to a 2-0 start this season heading into Sunday's (March 28) 3 p.m. (EDT) league home tilt versus the Rochester Raiders at the DeltaPlex in Walker, Mich.

Fricke currently ranks second on the squad this year with eight receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 9.4 yards per catch in two contests to date.

Meanwhile, Skodak has started both games at defensive back and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions and has added six solo tackles along with six assisted hits for a total of 12 stops in addition to one pass breakup.

Finally, Richard, who's in his third season with the franchise, started the season opener at quarterback and competed five-of-nine passes for 42 yards with 1 TD and a 104.9 passer rating in a decisive 52-36 home win over the Maryland Maniacs (Feb. 26).

The ThunderHawks, who are coached by former Grand Valley State player Terry Foster, play a 14-game regular season schedule this spring in the 25-team league.  The IFL consists of two conferences called United and Intense and each conference features three divisions.

West Michigan is a member of the Atlantic East Division along with the Rochester Raiders, Maryland Maniacs and the Richmond Revolution.

The franchise is in its first season in the Grand Rapids area after playing since its inception in 2007 until 2009 as the Muskegon Thunder at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon.

The renamed ThunderHawks moved to Grand Rapids in the offseason to help fill a void created with the loss of the Grand Rapids Rampage when the Arena Football League (AFL) suspended operations following the 2008 season.

In addition to the former Bulldog players, the ThunderHawks' roster also features a number of other former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) standouts such as Northern Michigan quarterback Buddy Rivera and signal caller Brad Iciek, who wrapped up a stellar four-year career for Grand Valley State last fall.  The squad also has players from Northwood, Saginaw Valley State, Michigan Tech and Findlay in addition to other schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State and Marshall.

Fricke wrapped up his four-year Bulldog career in 2007 with 84 career catches for 1,209 yards and 10 TD's in 39 contests.  The 2007 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention honoree had a personal career-high 35 grabs for 401 yards and four scores as a sophomore in 2005.

Skodak helped the Bulldogs to an 8-3 overall record as a senior in 2006 while earning All-GLIAC Honorable Mention accolades for the third consecutive season. His 10 career pass thefts for 59 yards in 47 career games is presently tied for seventh-best in FSU history. The 2006 All-Northwest Region Second Team standout concluded his four-year career at Ferris State ranking sixth all-time on the school's charts in punt returns with 37 for 432 career yards (11.7 avg.) and also in kickoff returns with 48 for 938 yards (19.5 avg.). He was a two-time (2005-06) FSU defensive co-captain.

Finally, Richard appeared in nine games in his only season on the field for the Bulldogs in 2000.  He started a single contest and completed 67 of 125 balls for 934 yards and seven scores after redshirting during the 1999 campaign.

In addition to Skodak, Fricke and Richard, another player also listed with FSU ties is a member of the ThunderHawks' roster.  Linebacker/running back Doug Emery redshirted at Ferris in 2003, but never saw game action for the Bulldogs.

Tickets for all ThunderHawks' home games are available through the team's website (, at the DeltaPlex box office (616-364-9000) and via all Ticketmaster outlets.