ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the Duke City Gladiators have only been around for a few years, the team has generated a very supportive fan base. Some have taken it as far as getting a Gladiators tattoo and tailgating over four hours prior to kickoff.
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“They welcomed me with open arms,” said superfan Matt Garcia. “It felt like this is a family and it’s right to be here.”
Garcia has been a Gladiators fan since the inaugural 2015 season when the team played at Tingley Coliseum and has only missed one game since then. He said while he enjoys other sporting events, such as Lobos games, nothing comes close to the Gladiators.
“I go to a lot of other games, but the Gladiators games are by far the best games out here in New Mexico,” Garcia said.
Fellow superfan Deborah Hall has similar feelings about supporting Duke City. She identifies as a “football junkie” and also has been attending games since 2015.
“It’s accessible,” Hall said. “You can meet the players, you can talk to them, you can touch them, they’re real. They’re here, they’re good.”
Duke City has four playoff appearances in franchise history, as well as two league titles. When the Gladiators won their first CIF championship, Hall celebrated the win by getting the team logo tattooed on her arm.
The Gladiators are in position to make another run in the playoffs this year. After a slow start to the season, first-year indoor quarterback Ramone Atkins has made Duke City propelled the offense to one of the top in the league and put the team back in postseason contention.