|History||Williamsburg Minutemen (1983-present)|
|Team colors||Old Glory Red, Old Glory Blue, White
|Owner(s)||Jack Tarman (male tiger, 1983-present)|
|RL Primary Contact||Sam Gwosdz|
|RL Secondary Contact||Jayni Tigerpaw|
|General manager||Samuel Gwosdz (male red fox, 2010-present)|
|Head coach||Erick "Barker" Barnett (Airedale Terrier, 2018-present)|
|Assistant coach||Nick Nwabudike (Elephant, 2018-present), Gary Wells (Turtle, 2019-present)|
|Lead trainer||Manuela Martinez (female serval)|
|Championships||2 (2003, 2012)|
|Conference titles||4 (1993, 1994, 2003, 2012)|
|Division titles||7 (1988, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2012)|
|Retired numbers||8 (Jake Masters) |
12 (Stan Shields)
45 (William Butenschen)
28 (Nick Nwabudike)
The Williamsburg Minutemen came into existence when, in 1982, the FBA announced expansion plans for the 1983-84 season. A local brewery owner named Jack Tarman became the primary owner of the team. The 41-year old tiger said that he was proud to own the first professional sports franchise in the city and hoped that a championship would come to them real soon. The Minutemen joined the El Paso Whips and Des Moines Blanks in the new class.
Tarman surprised many by hiring a young assistant from the University of Virginia to be the first head coach. Twenty-eight year old raccoon Morgan Roosevelt spent four seasons as Virginia’s assistant coach. The Cavaliers were an ACC powerhouse during that time, earning four straight conference titles. In the FCAA Tournament, Virginia reached the Sweet Sixteen all four times, the Elite Eight twice and Final Four twice.
The Minutemen were awarded the first pick in the 1983 draft thanks to a pre-draft lottery. The team used the pick to draft the top college player that season, Jake Masters. Born and raised in Richmond, the orange tabby was drafted out of Georgetown University after leading the Hoyas to the 1983 national title in his senior season.
1983-87: Young Talent Fuels Slow, But Steady Growth
Masters joined a veteran, but sparsely talented squad, headlined by popular, but injury-prone, center Rick Walton (lion). Walton, a two-time champion with the Tucson Demons, was signed to the team to provide veteran leadership and name recognition to get furs in the seats. The Minutemen won just 18 games their first season.
Smart drafting, however, provided the team with potential cornerstones. Point guard Stan Shields (grey wolf), selected with the second overall pick in the 1985 draft, led the team in steals in his rookie season. Originally from Charlotte, Shields went to school at North Carolina State University. The wolf was part of the 1982 FCAA champion squad as a freshman guard.
Center William Butenschen (jaguar) won the rebounding title in the 1986-87 season. He was drafted from the University of Houston in the 1986 draft with the third overall prick. Ironically, Butenschen, who hails from Munich, Germany, faced both of his future teammates in consecutive FCAA finals. He lost to Shields and North Carolina State in 1983, and got beat by Georgetown and Masters the next season.
Williamsburg won only 20 games in 1985-86, but improved to 32 wins the next season.
1987-88: Surprise Of The League
The Minutemen, led by Masters, finished with a 52-28 record, taking their first Central Division title. The orange tabby led the league in scoring, fueled by a league-leading 178 three-pointers.
Their opponent in the first round was the Hamilton Mariners. The senior club spoiled the post-season debut of the Minutemen by prevailing in six games. After Williamsburg lost by 15 points in Game Six, Masters wept visibly as the final horn sounded. The orange tabby wasn’t available for post-game interviews, and refused to answer any questions when he was approached.
The next day, an incriminating photo surfaced on the front page of the Hamilton Spectator. It displayed a crying Masters being consoled by Shields as they left the court. Mariner fans gave Masters the nickname “Crybaby”; the mocking nickname became popular fodder for Williamsburg’s opposing fans in the coming years.
1988-92: Not Quite Over The Hump
The Minutemen remained competitive with the core of Masters, Shields and Butenschen, now dubbed "The Three Generals" by their faithful fans. Shields provided the steals, Butenschen worked the boards and Masters scored the points. Williamsburg enjoyed playoff appearances in the five seasons. The Minutemen reached the conference finals three times. However, the team lost to the Lorain Firestorm once and the Huntsville Mayors twice. And each year Masters broke into tears after the deciding loss. Despite his scoring performance in the playoffs each season, leading his team, the “Crybaby” nickname still dogged him.
Williamsburg continued to draft well on the international scene by picking Zak Pejovic (red fox) in the 1989 draft. The strong power forward from the former Yugoslavia, drafted out of Zagreb, would provide a yearly strong inside presence for the team. The team also scored a key free agent signing, bringing on Soviet defector Sergei Bukhov (polar bear) after he left the USSR in the summer of 1990. Bukhov would provide solid production at the small forward position in the ensuing seasons.
1992-93: Finals Bound
This season ended up being the jewel of Masters’ career. He led the FBA in scoring with 29.4 points per game and teamed with Shields and Butenschen to bring Williamsburg their second division title. The Minutemen finished with 59 wins, second in the league. Williamsburg dispatched Newark in six games and faced Lorain in the conference finals. After getting swept by them last season, the Minutemen were looking for revenge.
Masters led the team in scoring in all seven games and Williamsburg pulled out the win in Game Seven with clutch free throws from Butenschen and veteran John McAffrey (weasel).
The Finals pitted Williamsburg against the Dakota Bikers. This being their first Finals, the nerves got the best of the Minutemen and the Bikers took Game 1 handily. Dakota used that momentum to control the series and dispatched Williamsburg in five games, utterly dominating the novice finalists Butenschen and Pejovic on the boards. Once again, Masters cried after the deciding loss.
1993-94: A Return Trip To The Finals
The careers of Masters, Shields and Butenschen were at their zenith and their great seasons led to Williamsburg’s most successful campaign. They started the year by posting the best record in the Eastern Conference (60-20). After beating the Plymouth Taproots in a four-game sweep, the Minutemen defeated their archrival Hamilton Mariners in the conference finals. Masters delivered his best performance against his rivals, scoring over 25 points each game, with a 44-point high in the final contest of the five-game victory. Pejovic provided the most scoring and rebounding support, notching double-doubles in the final four games.
Williamsburg faced the upstart Santa Cruz Clefs in the finals. The Minutemen took a critical 3 games to 2 lead, thanks to a game-winning three-pointer by Masters. Down by one point with ten seconds to go, Shields ran a single-double play, catching Masters as he cut behind the backboard and behind the three-point line. Masters let the shot go with a second on the clock and the ball swished through the net just after time expired. The Minutemen were so overjoyed, they celebrated like they had won the Finals by dog-piling on the orange tabby.
The Clefs used that as fuel to outplay the Minutemen in the next two games. When the final horn sounded in Game Seven, the Williamsburg crowd was deathly silent. Masters made it to the locker room without crying; however, as soon as he entered the small room, he buckled to the ground and started to sob. He had never felt so overcome with sadness and disappointment, the tears so bitter. He had let himself down. He had let his teammates down. He had let his fans down. And he thought it was due to his game-winning shot. The orange tabby didn’t get over the failure until a couple of weeks into the off-season.
1994-98: A General Falls, Minutemen Trod On
Masters won his third scoring title in 1995-96 with 27.1 points per game, but the Minutemen suffered one of the greatest blows in the history of their franchise in a game against the Biloxi Mudpuppies. Butenschen went up for a rebound in the fourth quarter and was pushed. He came down awkwardly on his right foot and suffered a broken ankle.
The rehab on his broken ankle went well, but nerve issues developed in his foot. Sharp pains would shoot up Butenschen’s leg every time he came down from getting a rebound or a jump shot. The jaguar decided after that season that he couldn’t play effectively anymore and decided to retire. He retired as the Minutemen’s career rebounding leader.
Coach Roosevelt attempted to move Pejovic to center following Butenschen’s retirement. The powerful red fox had some success at the position, but he couldn’t duplicate the rebounding prowess of his old teammate.
One important note of the period was whom the team acquired in the 1997 draft. With their first choice, the Minutemen drafted hybrid guard Karen McCall from the University of Texas. A female fennec fox originally from San Antonio, she was brought unto the team to give support to Shields and Masters, as the two entered the twilight of the careers. She complimented them both well with a double-digit scoring touch and a respectable job of running the offense.
The second choice, though, would prove to be the most valuable pick the team had made since taking Masters. A young forward named Karl Gruber was drafted out of Bonn, Germany. The underrated cougar was heavily scouted by Butenschen, the Minutemen’s new head of international scouting. Gruber soon blossomed into one of the biggest stars in FBA history.
Williamsburg had winning records for the three seasons and made the playoffs, but failed to make the conference finals each year, getting defeated by the Albany Alphas once and the Huntsville Mayors twice.
1998-2002: Back In The Hunt
Shields, Masters, Pejovic, McCall, Gruber and Bukhov remained after the retirement of Butenschen and Williamsburg was able to adjust, winning consecutive division titles in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 with 57-23 and 55-25 records. Unfortunately, the playoffs weren’t as kind. Williamsburg failed to advance in 1999-2000, being bounced by the eventual FBA champion Newark Pride. The Minutemen beat the Pride and the Mayors on the way to the conference finals in 2001-02, but the Lorain Firestrom blasted the Williamsburg in a four-game sweep on the way to the title.
2002-03: Champs At Last
The Minutemen had one final shot to win the title, emotionally, because it was rumored that this would be Masters and Shields’ final season. Williamsburg didn’t disappoint, finishing with the best record in the FBA at 63-19, spear-headed by FBA MVP Karl Gruber.
Williamsburg began the playoffs by storming through the Tennessee Moonshiners in a four-game sweep thanks to Gruber’s scoring domination. The Minutemen faced the Firestorm in the conference finals and braced for a grueling series with their division rivals.
It was just that, and Williamsburg exacted a measure of revenge by taking the series to seven games. The Minutemen pulled out the final victory thanks to a fabulous four-point play by McCall. Williamsburg won the game by six points and earned their third trip to the Finals.
The Minutemen faced the Dakota Bikers for the second time in the Finals. Once again, the series came down to seven games. At Patriot Stadium, Masters and Shields put on one final show in Game Seven, leading the Minutemen to a ten-point victory. When the final horn sounded, Patriot Stadium exploded in cheers and Masters dropped to his knees near mid-court, weeping for joy. He was soon buried at the bottom of a joyous victory dogpile. Gruber, who carried the scoring for the Minutemen, earned FBA Finals MVP.
2003-08: The Generals Retire, Minutemen Regroup
As expected, Masters and Shields retired. What was not expected was Gruber’s decision to sign a three-year contract with the Dakota Bikers. Without their leading scorer, the team lost its way. The Minutemen garnered the worst record in the division for the next two seasons.
In the 2003 draft, the team selected Nigerian basketball star Nick Nwabudike, and the elephant took his time learning the intricacies of the new league.
Bukhov and Pejovic retired following the 2004-05 season, leaving the Minutemen without much of a veteran presence, despite Nwabudike's efforts. It didn’t help matters when point guard Rachel Knox decided to leave as a free agent to sign with the Santa Fe Whips after the 2005-06 season. This left the door open for a replacement, however.
The draft paid off in 2006 when the club took Teo Masalia with their first-round pick. He was remembered from a U18 World Championship pool play game which took place during the 2001-02 off-season. Nwabudike and Team Nigeria slaughtered the outmatched Colombians, but Masalia didn't give up, leading his team with authority.
The panther quickly developed a strong bond with Nwabudike that transferred onto the court. The two worked so well together that the Minutemen fans dubbed them “Ebony and Ivory”, after two treasures valued since ancient times.
The Minutemen made the playoffs in the 2007-08 season, but were quickly bounced by the Newark Pride. McCall decided to call it a career after those playoffs ended.
2008-09: Ebony and Ivory
Masalia and Nwabudike blossomed as teammates in their third year together, leading Williamsburg to the playoffs with a 56-26 record. The Minutemen squeaked by the Taproots with a seven-game victory, but then got utterly destroyed by the eventual champion Mayors in the second round.
Masalia had incurred a bizarre suspension when he was named as a suspect in a Colombian drug-trafficking operation. The team stood behind him, asd as soon as Masalia was cleared of all charges, the black panther was allowed to play again.
2009-10: Shooting Themselves In The Foot
The 2009-2010 season was an unmitigated disaster. It all started with the drafting of Deborah Walker, an alpaca. The Memphis-born guard was rumored to want to go to medical school to become a cardiologist and surgeon, but she was drafted in the first round with the 18th pick anyway.
The Minutemen started off the season with a franchise-worst 10-game losing streak. After winning three of their next five games, the bottom fell out as Williamsburg went on an 18-game slide to drop them to 3-28 on the year. During the streak, rumors abounded that Coach Roosevelt was going to be fired. However, Jason Muttley, the general manager, said that wasn’t an option.
On January 19, an official report was submitted to a news agency: the Minutemen's plane had crashed en route to Williamsburg from Springfield, killing everyone aboard. The report was quickly found to be a hoax, as the team's plane touched down at Williamsburg International Airport shortly after the report was filed.
On February 3, with the team sitting at 4-31 on the year, Walker decided to retire and pursue a medical career. Her teammates felt sorry for her and sympathy provided a slight distraction.
Personnel decisions, though, proved to be a bigger factor. Eleanor Rigby, a solid point guard, was promoted to the starting position, putting Dorteo Masalia on the bench. This cut him off from the majority of the game with Nick Nwabudike, depriving the Williamsburg fans of the favored Ebony and Ivory duo. Coach Roosevelt said that Rigby had earned the starting position, and she had, but Williamsburg’s play did not improve. The team lost 40 of their final 51 games to finish with the worst record in the league, just the fourth time in franchise history they have had that distinction.
Some say that it was Muttley’s decision to have Rigby start and Roosevelt had to comply with the request, but it was never proven. Regardless, the general manager was fired after the season.
2010-11: New Faces Renew The Minutemen
About a week later, Tarman hired a young college graduate from Atlanta named Sam Gwosdz. Tarman said that he was impressed by Gwosdz’s passion for sports and business instincts and thought that he could bring Williamsburg back to the playoffs.
In the free agency period before the draft, Gwosdz re-signed forward Reginald Mackenzie and center Nick Nwabudike. He also pushed hard to sign top power forward Charles Yotechuk, but lost out on him to the Tallahassee Typhoons. Before the signing period was over, Gwosdz made a last-ditch offer to former Albany Alpha Lenny Hicks, who accepted it.
To fill out the rest of the roster, Gwosdz signed two more rookies: Finnish power forward and center Otto Okkonen (dragon), and Marron Gwosdz (arctic vixen), who last played college basketball at Atlanta Tech in the 2008-09 season. Some questioned the merits of a general manager signing his own wife to a contract, but both fox and vixen have insisted that the Minutemen come first in their jobs.
The Minutemen enjoyed immediate success, going 13-4 to start the seaosn. An unfortunate neck injury to veteran Liam Orwell, however, contributed to the team sliding to .500 (20-20) by the All-Star Break. Williamsburg attempted to improve the power forward position by trading Chester Renson to the Idaho Mounties for Denny Veil during the losing spell, but the move didn't yield results.
During the break, the Minutemen traded Veil and veteran guard Liam Weems, and a second-round pick in the 2011 FBA Draft to the Kansas City Clefs. In return, the Clefs sent shooting guard Jakub Lyška and center Walter Robinson. An unusual clause in the deal states that the Clefs would receive the Minutemen's first-round draft pick in the 2011 draft if Lyška is re-signed by the club.
At the trade deadline, the Minutemen made another move, acquiring Alan Murphy from the Pittsburgh Keystones for veteran forward Adrian Jefferson. The trade had a similar clause which stated that if the Minutemen re-sign Murphy, the Keystones would receive Williamsburg's first-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Murphy sprained his ankle in his first game with Williamsburg and the Minutemen lost to the Mudpuppies. The team, though, clinched a trip to the playoffs when the Albany Alphas lost to the Plymouth Taproots on May 1st.
The Minutemen faced the same Taproots in the first round of the playoffs. The teams split the first four games in Plymouth and Williamsburg. In Game 5, Murphy scored 23 points to lead the Minutemen to a 104-95 win. Williamsburg completed the upset with a 116-104 victory in Game 6.
Williamsburg faced the Newark Pride in the second round. After winning Game 1 by a 111-97 score, the Minutemen lost three straight games to face elimination. Lenny Hicks tallied the Minutemen's second triple-double of the season to help force a Game 6, but Williamsburg lost 114-101, the third time at home in the series, to finish their season.
2011-13: The Sudden Rise and Fall
2011-12 was a polarizing season for some, but an unforgettable one for the Minutemen faithful. The team dominated like no other year before, finishing with a league-best 67-13 record and only being defeated once at home. The team continued that dominance in the post-season, losing only two games in the playoffs -- one to the Huntsville Mayors in the conference semifinals, one to the Newark Pride in the conference finals -- and sweeping the Dakota Bikers in four games. Vera La Tiérra was selected the Finals MVP and rookie Ain Iannizzi finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting. Leonard Mack won the Sixth Fur of the Year Award and Roosevelt won his fourth Coach of the Year Award.
The next year, the Minutemen's 30th season in the FBA, was just as devastating as the previous was successful. Despite a 17-9 start, the team plummeted in the standings despite trades for Sasha Ivanovich, Silas Rand and Desmond Macon, finishing with a 38-42 record. The Newark Pride exacted a manner of revenge, defeating the Minutemen in five games in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. The story of the year seemed to be the decline of new captain La Tiérra, who finished with the lowest scoring average of her professional career, including the Liga Baloncesto Furry de Puerto Rico.
Despite that, the team celebrated their longevity by honoring former players when fans named Williamsburg's 30th Anniversary Team.
During the off-season, the Minutemen attempted to shore up their reserves by acquiring Nickie Robespierre from Santa Fe and Mary Wooten from Spokane. They also signed veteran guard Margaret Walters and drafted Alexander Moon and René Lacoste in the 2013 FBA Draft. However, the team immediately swapped Lacoste to the Albany Alphas for their 25th pick, Diego Imperio. Just before the season began, the Minutemen moved Robespierre to the San Jose Thrust for bigfur Susan Kruegar.
2013-14: More Ups and Downs
The Minutemen made a bit of waves by acquiring Crystal Davis from the Pittsburgh Keystones for Silas Rand before the season began. In a way that foreshadowed the odd season they would have, Davis had her jaw hurt by an errant elbow from Siegfried Romanoren and missed the first 15 games of the season. When she returned, she was inserted into the starting lineup as a third guard.
In an attempt to shore up their bench during the season, Williamsburg bought out the contract of center Joshua Koda and signed former #2 pick Neil Warren. The Nile Monitor lizard improved the team's assists from the bench, but the team didn't seem to improve in the win column.
Despite La Tiérra's rebound to a better season, Masalia's steady presence and Desmond Macon's first successful season without his brother Donnel, Nick Nwabudike was severely struggling. He was getting outrebouded by La Tiérra and Davis and he was constantly struggling to find his shot. He revealed to his teammates that he had hurt his knee in November and hid it. The team played more inspired after the revelation, including importing new rookie Luna St. Peter. The tall forward earned the Rookie of the Month award for May, helping the Minutemen rebound to a 40-40 record and the fifth seed in the playoffs.
Williamsburg faced the defending Eastern Conference champion Tallahassee Typhoons in the first round of the playoffs. Despite losing Game 1 in overtime, the Minutemen turned the series on its ear and dominated the rest of the games. With La Tiérra leading the charge, the Minutemen upset the Typhoons in five games.
The second round went just the opposite; the Minutemen fell just as quickly, losing in five games to the top Eastern Conference team in the Plymouth Taproots. The next day, Nwabudike announced his retirement from the game of basketball.
2014-15: The Minutewomen Take The Court As Ebony and Ivory Comes To A Close
The off-season saw the biggest impact with the faithful in a long time as fan-favorite Teo Masalia was traded to the Hawaii Kahunas in a three-team deal, bringing in Donell Macon from the San Jose Thrust. The team re-signed Davis and St. Peter, and also signed underrated point guard Ezra Rosenbaum in a sign-and-trade with the Kahunas. Former Minutemen player Otto Okkonen was brought back in a trade with the Mayors and Tina McCall returned to the club with a walk-on contract. During the draft, the team picked Irish shooter Mikaylah Marley and tall center Rebecca McCloud. Draftee Samuel Panigoyan, Jr. was signed as a free agent.
On November 25, hybrids were ruled to count as each of their combined species. Due to this, the Minutemen opted to place McCall on injured reserve slot for the season instead of releasing her. To replace her, the team signed long-time Pride veteran Sheila Andrews to a walk-on deal.
Just after the new year, on January 20, the Minutemen also traded Diego Imperio to the Montana Howlers for veteran Wally Wald. The team wasn't able to gain any ground on the Keystones and finished with a losing record, but they made the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. Unfortunately for them, that's where the accolades ended as they fell in five games to their division rivals from Pittsburgh.
2015-16: Flying Too Close To The Sun
The first thing the Minutemen did in the off-season was exercise their buyout contract option on the recently traded-for Ezra Rosenbaum, who was such a disappoint to the degree that she spent most of the year on deep reserve. The draft though, provided the biggest surprise of all when they drafted Misha Maxwell, whom many pundits thought they didn't even need. A few picks later, it was announced Williamsburg had traded her in a package for power forward Sebastian Kosciusko. With the new draft pick, they took Rocky Caracal younger brother Connor Caracal. With their final two picks, they took Marcella Oliviera and Lorraine Schaefer. The Minutemen also resigned Samuel Panigoyan, Jr. and brought back popular high-energy guy Silas Rand.
Williamsburg then scored a jewel in the free agency sweepstakes, when, after missing out on René Lacoste, they were able to convince former Thrust foward Renee Fiora to sign a three-year deal with them. Fiora immediately became the team's top scorer.
The team was one of the more consistent and better teams in the league to start the year. After 44 games, they held a 30-14 record and Vera La Tiérra, Crystal Davis, Fiora and Kosciusko paced them, with them also getting great performances from Marley, McCloud and the Macon brothers.
But then Davis, La Tiérra and Fiora started to get periodic injuries over the season's final two months, causing a 3-14 slide and dropping them to sixth in the league. But wins over the Spirits and Taproots clinched a playoff spot for the team.
In the playoffs, the team jumped out to a 2-1 lead despite a neck injury to Crystal. However a knee injury to Fiora ended up crippling them as they dropped the next three games. A day after the season, lead trainer Peter Ewing, who had been with the team since 1995, abruptly resigned his head trainer position, citing slipping abilities. However, the team asked to retain him on an advisory position.
2016-17: Great Chemistry Leads To Great Season
2017-18: Coach Roosevelt's Last Round-Up
2018-19: Coach Barker's First Season
Full Roster Stats
- William Butenschen – 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994
- Morgan Roosevelt - 1988, 1993, 2003, 2012, 2017
- Rick Walton (1983-87)
- Jake Masters (1987-2003)
- Benjamen Rusk (2003-2009)
- Adrian Jefferson (2009-11)
- Lenny Hicks (2011-12)
- Vera La Tiérra (2012-present)
- Morgan Roosevelt (1983-2018)
- Erick "Barker" Barnett (2018-present)
- Assistant Coach: Nick Nwabudike (2018-present)
- Assistant Coach: Erick "Barker" Barnett (2015-2018)
- Assistant Coach: Donna Milligan (2011-2015)
- Assistant Coach: Kelsey Hampshire (2004-14)
- Assistant Coach: Daniel "No Mercy" Williams (2005-2011)
- Lead Trainer: Peter Ewing (1995-2016)
- Lead Trainer: Manuela Martinez (2016-present)
- Assistant Trainer: Manuela Martinez (2012-16)