Iowa Barnstormers

Last updated
Iowa Barnstormers
AmericanFootball current event.svg Current season
Established 1995
Play in Wells Fargo Arena
in Des Moines, Iowa
TheIowaBarnstormers.com
League/conference affiliations
Arena Football League (19952000)

af2 (2001, 20082009)

  • American Conference (2001, 2008–2009)
    • Midwest Division (2001, 2008–2009)

Arena Football League (20102014)

Indoor Football League (2015–present)

  • United Conference (2015–2017)
Current uniform
Iowa Barnstormers 2021 Away Uniform Colors.jpg
Team colorsBlack, gold, red, white
    
CheerleadersStorm Chasers
Personnel
Owner(s) Jeff Lamberti
General managerJuli Pettit
Head coach Les Moss
Team history
  • First franchise
  • Second franchise
    • Iowa Barnstormers (2001, 2008–present)
Championships
League championships (1)
Conference championships (2)
Division championships (5)
Playoff appearances (10)
Home arena(s)

The Iowa Barnstormers are a professional indoor football team based in Des Moines, Iowa. They are currently members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena, known in indoor football circles as "The Well".

Contents

Several teams called the Iowa Barnstormers have played in different indoor football leagues since 1995. The original Arena Football League team played in Des Moines' Veterans Memorial Auditorium from 1995 to 2001, and subsequently relocated to Uniondale, New York, where they were known as the New York Dragons. Des Moines was awarded a franchise in the developmental AF2 league in 2001 that carried on the Barnstormers name and branding, but the team suspended operations after the end of the season. In 2008 a new Barnstormers team began play in the AF2, now based in the new Wells Fargo Arena; this team joined the new AFL in 2010 following the league's reorganization. For the 2015 season, the Barnstormers left the AFL and became members of the IFL. [1]

History

Original Barnstormers: 1995–2000

On April 25, 1994, the Arena Football League approved an expansion team to be based in Des Moines, Iowa, to begin play in the 1995 season. The team was owned by Jim Foster, the inventor/creator of arena football, and the founder of the Arena Football League. On May 12, 1995, the Barnstormers played their first regular season game, on the road against the Milwaukee Mustangs. In a wild finish that saw both teams combine to score 24 points in the final 40.4 seconds of the fourth quarter, the Barnstormers won, 69–61. The next weekend, May 20, 1995, the Barnstormers played their first regular season home game against the Miami Hooters at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, winning 41–29.

Behind the strength of AFL Coach of the Year John Gregory, the Barnstormers raced to a 3–0 start and secured the 5th seed for the playoffs. After upsetting defending ArenaBowl champion Arizona, 56–52, in their first playoff game, the Barnstormers fell, 56–49, to 6th-seeded Orlando in the semifinals.

After an 0–1 start to their second season, the Barnstormers won their first Central Division title on the strength of eight consecutive wins to close the season. After edging St. Louis and Albany in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the top-seeded Barnstormers lost a 42–38 heartbreaker at home to second-seeded Tampa Bay in ArenaBowl X.

In 1997, the Barnstormers repeated as Central Division champions with an 11–3 record, including a 61–38 road thrashing of the rival Storm to avenge the previous season's ArenaBowl defeat. With the 2nd seed in the playoffs, the Barnstormers avenged a regular season defeat against 7th-seeded San Jose, 68–59, before racing past 4th-seeded Orlando 52–34 to reach the franchise's second ArenaBowl in three seasons. However, in ArenaBowl XI, Arizona used a 42–13 scoring stretch over the 2nd and 3rd Quarters to roll past Iowa, 55–33.

Star offensive specialist Willis Jacox retired after the 1997 season, while star quarterback Kurt Warner signed with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League (NFL). Forced to rebuild after losing the eventual two-time NFL MVP, the Barnstormers limped to an 0–5 start in 1998. After acquiring Aaron Garcia from New Jersey, the Barnstormers improved, with a three-game winning streak sparked by Garcia and rookie sensation Kevin Swayne, putting the Barnstormers in playoff contention late in the year. But, in the end, they faltered, finishing 5–9, their worst season of their years in Iowa.

In 1999, the Barnstomer resurgence under Garcia continued, with Iowa winning nine of their last ten regular season games (following a 2–2 start) to capture their third Central Division title in four seasons and secure the 2nd seed in the playoffs. A thrashing of division rival Milwaukee in the quarterfinals paired with 8th-seeded Orlando's 41–19 shocker at Tampa Bay set Iowa up at home against the 6th-seeded Predators with a chance to advance to another home ArenaBowl. However, Orlando continued its shocking run to ArenaBowl XIII with a 56–49 upset of the Barnstormers.

The 2000 Barnstormers put up startling offensive numbers, as Garcia threw for 92 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions, with 46 of the touchdowns going to Mike Horacek. Despite this prolific offense, Iowa started slowly, losing three of their first four games. However, a five-game winning streak return the Barnstormers to the thick of the playoff hunt. Iowa went on to win their fourth Central Division crown in six seasons of play, earning the 3rd seed in the newly expanded playoffs. However, Iowa's playoff run came to a quick end on a Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals, as the 6th-seeded Nashville scored the final 14 points to defeat Iowa, 49–42. Historically, the Barnstormers have ranked high in home paid attendance. In the Arena Football League, they finished 7th in 1995, 8th in 1996, 9th in 1997, 8th in 1998, 9th in 1999, and 9th in 2000.

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, where the Barnstormers played from 1995 to 2001. VetsAuditorium.jpg
Veterans Memorial Auditorium, where the Barnstormers played from 1995 to 2001.

AF2 years: 2001, 2008–2009

The need for a more modern venue as well as the league's desire for a larger market led to the move to New York City despite two failed past attempts in the city, the New York Knights (1988) and the New York CityHawks (19971998), both of which played at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The team was purchased by Charles Wang, who is also the Islanders' majority owner, and renamed the New York Dragons. [2]

Aside from the league's desire to re-enter the New York market, another major reason cited for the team's relocation was the inadequacy of their Des Moines venue, the Iowa Veterans Memorial Auditorium, also known as "The Barn". Most of the seats in this venue were located directly along the sidelines as is typical of high school sports venues. The Barnstormers organization constantly lobbied for the construction of a better facility during their time in Des Moines to no avail.

The arena Football organization awarded an AF2 franchise to Iowa for the 2001 season, which continued the Barnstormer name. [3] However, low attendance (less than half of the average of the AFL franchise) and a relatively poor season (a five-game winning streak to close the season wasn't able to turn a 4–7 start into a playoff berth) would lead to that franchise suspending operations following their first season.

On September 20, 2007, the AF2 announced that they had approved the inactive franchise's new ownership, meaning that the Barnstormers resumed play in 2008 at the Wells Fargo Arena. They hold practices at the historic Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and they inherited the tradition of the original Barnstormers. The team adopted the original unique uniforms, which in keeping with the aviation theme included the depiction of goggles on the helmets, wings on the shoulders of the jerseys, and propellers on the pants legs. The mascot, a dog named Ace, is featured in this helmet, along with the uniform jersey and pants. [4]

After being on hiatus for six seasons, the Barnstormers played their first regular season game of 2008, falling at the Louisville Fire 58–28 on March 29, 2008. The following week, they would return home for a Monday Night primetime match-up with the Lexington Horsemen on April 14, 2008. In the debut of Arena Football at the Wells Fargo Arena, the Barnstormers lost a close 43–41 contest. The next week, Iowa won their first regular season match-up since 2001 (their 75th overall), defeating the Quad City Steamwheelers 58–38 on April 19 in Moline, Illinois. The team would win their first home game at the Wells Fargo Arena on April 26, 2008, defeating the Stockton Lightning 47–24. During the 2008 season, the Barnstormers ranked 17th in average home paid attendance out of the 46 combined teams in the Arena Football League and AF2. In both 2008 and 2009, Iowa ranked second in AF2 attendance to the Spokane Shock, with attendances of 9,341 and 9,520, respectively.

Return to the AFL (2010–2014)

The Barnstormers playing against the Tampa Bay Storm during the 2013 season. Tampa Bay at Iowa 6.1.13.JPG
The Barnstormers playing against the Tampa Bay Storm during the 2013 season.

On September 28, 2009, the Barnstormers announced their status as a charter member of the new Arena Football League, marking their return to playing top-notch arena football after almost a decade of lower levels and inactivity. [5] A franchise-record 12,184 fans attended the 2010 opener; however, Iowa's first play from scrimmage resulted in an interception return for a touchdown by the Chicago Rush, an ominous harbinger of an eventual 7–9 season.

Indoor Football League (2015–present)

On July 27, 2014, Barnstormers president Jeff Lamberti told WHO-TV in Des Moines that the franchise will explore "all options" in the off-season of their continuance to play, including leaving the AFL and going to the Indoor Football League for 2015. The Barnstormers had not had a winning season since their revival as a top-level arena football team, mainly because of the difficulty in attracting top-ticket free agents to the AFL's smallest market. [6]

On August 27, 2014, Lamberti announced that the Iowa Barnstormers had officially become members of the IFL and named former Barnstormers quarterback Joe Brannen to replace Mike Hohensee. The Barnstormers became the first team to directly leave the AFL for a new league, although previously the Austin Wranglers had been demoted from the AFL to the AFL's former minor league, af2. The Arkansas Twisters, Tri-Cities Fever, and Green Bay Blizzard were former af2 teams which jumped to the IFL.

"We are excited to bring the Barnstormers to the IFL", said Lamberti. "The chance to sign more local players, see more fans at road games, and create friendly rivalries with other teams of the Midwest are just a few of the opportunities that we look forward to." [7]

AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz released a statement regarding the Barnstormers departure from the AFL: "We wish the Iowa Barnstormers all the best in their new endeavor. Their organization has been a part of the rich history of Arena Football for years now and will always be thought of fondly by those who love our sport." It was also noted that players currently under contract with the team were not obligated to remain with the club, essentially making them free agents. [8]

IFL commissioner Mike Allshouse commented: "This is a monumental day in the history of the Indoor Football League. These are exciting times for the IFL as we continue to improve and expand our business model." [9]

To adjust to their new league, the Barnstormers removed the word "arena" from their logo as they are no longer with the Arena Football League, yet will retain the history of their time with the AFL. They did use the rebound nets they owned from their AFL days in 2015, but under IFL rules, any ball that hits the netting is a dead ball. The rebound nets were taken down in 2016 and replaced by the standard indoor football goalposts with netting surrounding each end zone.

On July 11, 2016, Brannen was fired as the Barnstormers head coach. On August 24, 2016, Brannen was replaced by Dixie Wooten. [10] Wooten had been serving as the offensive coordinator for the Cedar Rapids Titans. In his second year as head coach, Wooten led the Barnstormers to their first championship on July 7, 2018, over the Sioux Falls Storm 42–38 in the United Bowl. Wooten led the team to a 12–2 record in 2019, but again lost to Sioux Falls in the semifinals. After the season, he was hired away by the 2019 expansion team Tucson Sugar Skulls. [11] Wooten was replaced by Ameer Ismail, the former head coach of the Massachusetts Pirates. [12] However, he would not coach a game for the team as the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Longtime general manager John Pettit died in December 2020 after complications from COVID-19 [13] and his daughter Juli was named the team's new general manager. The Barnstormers hired former Jacksonville Sharks head coach Les Moss for the 2021 season. [14] Moss then brought former Albany Empire head coach Rob Keefe to Iowa after serving as Keefe's assistant in Albany. [15]

Logos and uniforms

When the Barnstormers began playing in 1995, the team's logo consisted of a circular logo, which depicted a barnstorming airplane over the city of Des Moines. The logo was surrounded by a circular script reading, "Arena Football Club". The word "Arena" was removed when the team moved to the IFL. The circle logo also has wings on each side, with the words "Iowa" and "Barnstormers" on two lines above the circle logo. Below the logo was the words, "Des Moines." The team's colors consisted of black, gold and cardinal. The three colors are a combination of the Iowa Hawkeyes black and gold, and the Iowa State Cyclones cardinal and gold.

Uniforms

Erick McIntosh wearing the Barnstormers' 2013 all black home uniform. ErickMcIntosh.PNG
Erick McIntosh wearing the Barnstormers' 2013 all black home uniform.

The goggles on the team's helmet make the Barnstormers helmet one of the most recognized helmets in AFL history. In a 2008 Yahoo! article, the Barnstormers' helmet was ranked as the 8th best helmet in pro football history. [16] Until 2012, the helmet was gold with black goggles; this was reversed beginning in the 2013 season.

The Barnstormers' original uniform designed consisted of a gold helmet, and either black or white jerseys with gold numbers on the black jerseys and black numbers on the white jersey with pilots' wings on the front of both. Gold pants were used with both jerseys. A side stripe on the pants was in the design of a propeller blade. Upon the club's return, the wings were removed from the jersey. Beginning in 2013, the team switched to black pants. [17]

Notable players

Current roster

Iowa Barnstormers roster
Quarterbacks
  • 3Yianni Gavalas

Running backs

  • 32 Evan Owens

Wide receivers

  •  4 Beau Tanner
  • 5 Austin Hicks
  • 18 Connor Hollenbeck
  • 17Daylon Person
  • 11Andrew Mahoney Jr.
Offensive linemen
  • 55Quante Hines
  • 60DJ Loving
  • 67Steven Rowzee

Defensive linemen

  • 99 Christopher Biggurs
  • 24Tony Winslow
  • 91Denzel Chukwukelu
  • 9Tony Jones
  • 10Tony Jones

{{NFLplayer|20|Kenton Bartlett|link=no|rookie=y}

Linebackers
  • 22Gabriel McCoy

Defensive backs

  •  23 Edward Nelson Jr.
  •  21 Tyrone Cromwell III
  • 14Doran Walker
  • 6David
  •  3 John McClure III

Kickers

  • 12Nathan Criswell
Reserve lists
  • Rookies in italics
  • Roster updated May 23, 2021
  • 27 Active, 3 Inactive
More rosters

Retired uniform numbers

Iowa Barnstormers retired numbers
PlayerPositionSeasonsRef.
13 Kurt Warner QB 1995–1997 [18]

Arena Football League Hall of Famers

Iowa Barnstormers Hall of Famers
No.NameYear InductedPosition(s)Years w/ Barnstormers
-- Jim Foster 1998Owner1995–2001
-- Mike Hohensee 2012 Head Coach 2012–2014
-- Jon Roehlk 1999 OL/DL 1995–1996
13 Kurt Warner 2002 QB 1995–1997

Indoor Football League Hall of Famers

Iowa Barnstormers Hall of Famers
No.NameYear InductedPosition(s)Years w/ Barnstormers
23Javicz Jones2019 LB 2015–2017
4Bryan Pray2019 WR 2017
-- John Pettit 2021GM/VP2008–2020

All-Arena players

The following Barnstormers players have been named to All-Arena Teams:

All-IFL players

The following Barnstormers players have been named to All-IFL Teams:

Individual awards

Staff

Iowa Barnstormers staff
Front office
  • Principal Owner – Jeff Lamberti
  • President/General Manager/COO – Juli Pettit
  • Owner – Don Lamberti
  • Honorary owner – Ben Silverstein
  • Owner – David Silverstein
  • Owner – Scott Thurber
  • Owner – Dave Knau
  • Owner – Jim Gocke
  • Owner – Dan Stanbrough
  • Owner – Jeff Lipman
  • Owner – Tom Nelson
  • Owner – Dan Ochylski
  • Owner – Brian Chittenden
 

Head coachLes Moss

Defensive coaches

Statistics and records

Season-by-season records

Head coaching records

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2021 Indoor Football League season.

NameTermRegular seasonPlayoffsAchievements
WLTWin%WL
John Gregory 19952000
20082011 [25]
82570.59076
Art Haege 2001 [25] 240.333
Earle Bruce 2001 [25] 730.70000
J. T. Smith 2011 [25] 360.20000
Mike Hohensee 20122014 19350.35200
Joe Brannen 20152016 10200.33300
Dixie Wooten 20172019 3680.81821Coach of the Year (2017)
Les Moss 2021–present1266.50001

Related Research Articles

Arena Football League Professional indoor American football league

The Arena Football League (AFL) was a professional indoor American football league in the United States. It was founded in 1987, making it the third longest-running professional football league in North America after the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL) until the AFL closed in 2019. The AFL played a proprietary code known as arena football, a form of indoor American football played on a 66-by-28 yard field, with rules encouraging offensive performance, resulting in a faster-paced and higher-scoring game. The sport was invented in the early 1980s and patented by Jim Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League (USFL) and the NFL. Each of the league's 32 seasons culminated in the ArenaBowl, with the winner being crowned the league's champion for that season.

New York Dragons Arena football team

The New York Dragons were a professional arena football team based in the New York metropolitan area. The Dragons participated in the Arena Football League's (AFL) National Conference as a member of the Eastern Division. The team was founded in 1995 as the original iteration of the Iowa Barnstormers, and relocated to New York in 2001. They played in New York until 2008, when the league folded. They played in the Eastern Division of the National Conference, and played their home games at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Their last coach was Weylan Harding.

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The Spokane Shock are a professional indoor American football team based in Spokane, Washington, playing their home games at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The team was initially a member of arenafootball2 (af2), the Shock won division titles in all four seasons and ArenaCups in 2006 and 2009 before they joined the Arena Football League (AFL) in its 2010 relaunch. The team advanced to the playoffs three times after joining the AFL, winning ArenaBowl XXIII in their first season, making them the only arena football franchise to win both the ArenaCup and the ArenaBowl.

Mike Hohensee American gridiron football player and coach

Michael Louis Hohensee is a former professional football quarterback who played in the United States Football League, Canadian Football League, National Football League and Arena Football League. He most recently the head coach of the AFL's Portland Thunder. He played college football at the University of Minnesota, and was in the AFL for two seasons, from 1987 to 1988. Hohensee has been a head coach since 1990, beginning at the Washington Commandos. He has served as head coach of eight different arena football franchises, winning ArenaBowl XX with the Chicago Rush in 2006.

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Wichita Wild

The Wichita Wild were a professional indoor football team based in Wichita, Kansas. They were members of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL). The team was founded in 2006 as an independent indoor football franchise. In 2008, the team joined United Indoor Football (UIF). They joined the Indoor Football League (IFL) during the UIF and Intense Football League merger of 2009. In 2012, the team left the IFL to become charter members of the CPIFL. The Wild's home games were played at Hartman Arena in nearby Park City. When they lost their lease with the Hartman Arena, they folded..

Indoor Football League Indoor American football league founded in 2008

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Les Moss is an American football coach and head coach of the Iowa Barnstormers of the Indoor Football League (IFL) since 2021. Previously, he was the head coach of the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League (AFL) from 2010 to 2016 and the assistant head coach of the Albany Empire of the AFL from 2018 to 2019. He is the son of former NFL, AFL, CFL and NCAA head football coach Perry Moss, who is enshrined in the AFL Hall of Fame.

The 2015 Arena Football League season was the 28th season in the history of the league. The regular season began on March 27, 2015 and ended on August 8, 2015.

The 2016 Indoor Football League season was the eighth season of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Playing with ten teams in two conferences located primarily in mid-level cities in the central United States, the league's regular season kicked off on February 20, 2016 and ended on June 24, 2016. The playoffs were held in three rounds, with the top seed in each conference receiving a first-round bye as the second and third seeds facing each other in the conference semifinal, with the winner of that game facing the top seed in a conference championship game followed by the winners of those games meeting in the United Bowl.

The 2017 Indoor Football League season was the ninth season of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Playing with ten teams in two conferences spread across the midwestern and western United States, the league's regular season kicked off on February 16, 2017, when the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles hosted the Nebraska Danger. The regular season ended 18 weeks later on June 18, 2017, with the defending league champion Sioux Falls Storm visiting the Iowa Barnstormers and the Wichita Falls Nighthawks visiting the Nebraska Danger. The playoffs were held in two rounds, with the top two seeds in each conference playing against each other in the conference championships. The winner of those games met in the United Bowl.

The 2017 Iowa Barnstormers season was the team's seventeenth season as a professional indoor football franchise and third in the Indoor Football League (IFL). One of ten teams that competed in the IFL for the 2017 season, the Barnstormers were members of the United Conference.

The 2018 Indoor Football League season was the tenth season of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The league played with six teams, after the suspension of operations of three teams, the departure of another two teams, and the addition and subsequent suspension of two teams.

The 2018 Iowa Barnstormers season was the team's eighteenth season as a professional indoor football franchise and fourth in the Indoor Football League (IFL). They were one of six teams that competed in the IFL for the 2018 season. The Barnstormers were members of the United Conference in previous seasons, but due to the loss of several teams in the offseason, there was no conference alignment for the 2018 season.

The 2018 United Bowl was the championship game of the 2018 Indoor Football League season. It was played between the Sioux Falls Storm and the Iowa Barnstormers. The game was played at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Tucson Sugar Skulls

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In 1988, the New York Knights played for one season as part of the Arena Football League, and then ceased operations. In 1997, the AFL added two expansion franchises, the New York CityHawks, who played at Madison Square Garden, and the New Jersey Red Dogs, who played in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The CityHawks moved to Hartford, Connecticut and were renamed the New England Sea Wolves in 1999, and then relocated to Toronto in 2001, and renamed the Toronto Phantoms. The Red Dogs were renamed the New Jersey Gladiators in 2001, then relocated and became the Las Vegas Gladiators in 2003, before relocating again and being renamed the Cleveland Gladiators. When the Sea Wolves, who were owned by the Madison Square Garden Company and had their games televised in New York City on MSG Network, relocated to Toronto, the AFL's Iowa Barnstormers relocated to Long Island and were renamed the New York Dragons. The Dragons played in New York until 2008, when the league suspended operations; no team from New York played in the league from its 2010 revival until the Albany Empire, based in the state's capital, joined the AFL in 2018.

Ryan Balentine is an American football player. He is a wide receiver for the Tucson Sugar Skulls of the Indoor Football League, having previously played for the Green Bay Blizzard, Bemidji Axemen, Cedar Rapids Titans, and Iowa Barnstormers with whom he won the 2018 United Bowl. An 8-season veteran, Balentine is one of the longest active players in the IFL.

References

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  5. Official Team Press Release: Barnstormers Back Where We Belong!
  6. Barnstormers May Leave AFL, Join Different League, John Sears, WHO-TV website, July 27, 2014
  7. Iowa Barnstormers Announce Future Plans, Barnstormers Join Indoor Football League, Hire Head Coach, Iowa Barnstormers website, August 27, 2014
  8. AFL Issues Statement on Iowa Barnstormers Franchise, AFL website, August 27, 2014
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  12. "Barnstormers Name New Head Coach". Iowa Barnstormers. September 26, 2019.
  13. "Iowa Barnstormers vice president, COO John Pettit dies from complications related to COVID-19". Des Moines Register. December 31, 2020.
  14. "Barnstormers Name Les Moss as Head Coach". OurSports Central. April 5, 2021.
  15. "Barnstormers Name Rob Keefe as Assistant Head Coach". OurSports Central. April 13, 2021.
  16. MJD (May 28, 2008). "8th Coolest Helmet in History: Iowa Barnstormers, '95-Present". www.sports.yahoo.com. Yahoo!. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  17. "NEW LOOK: Barnstormers Reveal New Uniforms". www.whotv.com. NBC. February 26, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  18. Sean Leahy (May 17, 2010). "Kurt Warner's jersey to be retired ... by the AFL's Iowa Barnstormers". www.usatoday.com. USA Today. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
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