The return of semi-pro football to Eau Claire

Eau Claire Cowboys return to competition in partnership with UW-Eau Claire.

Claire Schoenemann

More stories from Claire Schoenemann


Photo by Submitted

Coach Fred Hoversholm wearing UW-Eau Claire gear while he coaches a former semi-pro team, the Eau Claire Crush.

After a three-year break from both competition and community involvement, the Eau Claire Cowboys semi-pro football team plans to return to action in the spring of 2023. 

According to Sunny Richardson, a member of the co-general manager council of the Eau Claire Cowboys and former semi-pro football player for the Eau Claire Cowboys and the Eau Claire Crush, the last time the team had a full season of competition in Eau Claire was in 2019. 

Richardson said that in 2017 and 2018, the team competed in the Northern Lights Football League, having success against the best teams from every corner of the state.

The team won the Northern Lights League Championship in 2018 and faced the Northern Elite Football League in 2019. The team fell in the championship game in 2019 to the Minneapolis Warriors, and has not competed for a full season since, Richardson said. 

Richardson said that the team is eager to do more than return to play, though, and are excited to be more involved with the community this time around. 

“It’s just going to be a great thing I think for the community to have semi-pro football again,” Richardson said, “for our entire league, we kind of want to be a shining example of what we could do to turn semi-pro football around.”

Richardson is just one member of a team of co-owners who have worked to put the team and organization back together. Former head coach of the Cowboys, Bob Brown, will take position as the team’s offensive coordinator, Richardson said. 

According to Richardson, Fred Hoversholm, former football coach of the Eau Claire Crush, Chippewa Valley Predators and Menomonie Thunderhawks, will be resuming coaching after almost 10 years away, to coach the Eau Claire Cowboys. 

Richardson said that Hoversholm is an exemplary role model for the Eau Claire Cowboys organization, and for the community as a whole. 

“Our leadership is passionate about prioritizing the community, edifying our youth and going above and beyond what other semi-pro teams have done in the past,” Richardson said. 

According to Richardson, one of their goals is to bring awareness to the ongoing renovation of their newly established home field in partnership with UW-Eau Claire, Simpson Field. 

Richardson said that especially with recent Blugold athletic success, the Eau Claire Cowboys organization hopes to help shed light on UW-Eau Claire’s fundraising to finish Simpson Field renovations and upgrades. 

“For us to be able to play there and be some of the first football action that’s going to be seen at Simpson field, is really kind of an honor for us too,” Richardson said. “We hope that as people come out and watch us play, they will be able to see how nice the facility is getting.”

Coach Hoversholm said that he believes in this community aspect of the team more than anything else. Fans can look forward to the Eau Claire Cowboys shaking hands in the stands and making the semi-pro competition more than just a game. 

Hoversholm and Richardson both said the organization plans to be more involved with the community this time around by conducting youth camps with the help of Valley Sports Academy, half-time fundraisers, charity donations and community cookouts. 

“The best exercise for your heart is reaching down and helping somebody up,” Hoversholm said. “It’s not whether you win or lose the game. It’s how you conduct yourself. They won’t remember the score of the game, they’ll remember how you treated them.” 

Hoversholm said that he wants the Eau Claire Cowboys team to be able to stay at Simpson Field for a decade and to always be able to maintain this relationship with both the Blugolds and the City of Eau Claire.

“I think it’s important to humanize the fans and the players together,” Hoversholm said, “we’re all one big family, and that’s what I call my players.”

Richardson said that any community members interested in either playing for the team or being involved in the organization can reach the team at [email protected]

According to Richardson, Northern Lights Webcasting will be covering the Eau Claire Cowboys competition. Anyone interested in being involved in the broadcasting can reach out to Rick Olson, or the Eau Claire Cowboys. 

The Cowboys’ first home game will take place at Simpson Field on May 27, 2023. 

Schoenemann can be reached at [email protected]