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New pro sports team on the rise in Phoenix

PHOENIX — A new pro sports team is rising in the Valley.

The Phoenix Rise of the new National Pro Grid League (NPGL) will open play August 23 at Arena in Glendale.

It’s one of eight teams that will be playing the sport known as “Grid.”

It consists of races that include things like weightlifting, gymnastics, and running.

“Grid is a co-ed combination of races that happen against two teams that race 11 times in a match against one another,” said James Fitzgerald, co-owner, head coach and one of the players. “They’re pretty trying to do exercises to compete against one another in those races in a match.”

Each of the eight teams in the league will have 10 players, including five men and five women. At least one of the players on each team must be at least 40 years old.

Fitzgerald, who was the winner of the 2007 CrossFit Games and is considered a pioneer in the sport, said Grid is a new way to cheer on the players as they are working out.

“You can imagine taking walking and bicep curls for a certain period of time. Imagine 20 people trying to do that as fast as possible to get a score. That’s pretty much what it’s gone to,” said Fitzgerald.

Jessica Phillips, 23, and her 31-year-old husband Brandon are two of the other players on the team.

During an appearance Saturday on KTAR’s “Arizona’s Morning News Weekend” show, Phillips said that she’s thrilled to be on the team.

“My husband and I planned on Phoenix because they have the best coaches, all-around athletes and vision for the sport,” said Phillips.

She and her husband packed up, left their home in Georgia, and came to Phoenix about two weeks after the Rise chose them in the NPGL draft in Miami.

Coming to Phoenix is just the latest event in what’s been a wild year for Phillips. In the past 12 months, she’s married Brandon, opened her own gym in Georgia, signed with the Rise and had a baby.

The other seven teams in the league are the New York Rhinos, the Los Angeles Reign, the Miami Surge, the D.C. Brawlers, the San Francisco Fire, the Philadelphia Founders and the Boston Iron. The Rise’s first game is against the Brawlers.

Some of the league’s games will be nationally televised on NBC. The regular season leads up to the NPGL’s championship tournament. That will happen Oct. 1 – Oct. 3 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

For tickets and more information go to Phoenix Rise’s website.