Pop Warner football moves to Davidson County

Youth league also emphasizes academics
Apr. 16, 2013 @ 02:45 PM

Pop Warner football has been around for nearly 100 years. This year, it begins in Davidson County.
The first day of information sessions and sign-ups for the newly-formed Davidson County Cougars will be held at Ledford High School at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 20. Meetings will also be held at North Davidson at 10 a.m. May 4 and at Central Davidson at 10 a.m. May 11.
"We were sitting there looking at it, and we just thought Pop Warner prepares the kids physically, mentally and academically for school," said Glen Smith, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Davidson County Pop Warner Football League. "It's a collective group effort. We met with the folks from Pop Warner. We had to find enough people who were interested to start with.
"We're making it available to the communities, trying to prepare these kids for the high school and collegiate level."
Pop Warner football was founded in 1929 as a youth football league in Philadelphia. Since that time, it has evolved into a nationwide phenomenon and now includes youth cheerleading.
Stephanie Griffin, a mother of a student from Pilot Elementary, was responsible for helping raise funds for the Davidson County league. Griffin said community sports often pits students from different schools against each other. She found Pop Warner football to be a palatable alternative.
"I was really attracted to Pop Warner, because my son was excited with the opportunity," Griffin said. "Glen and some others have been working on it for a couple years. Glen used to coach my son in recreation league. He's the one who introduced us to Pop Warner.
"I like how Pop Warner brings all the kids from Davidson County together, and how it prepares the kids for high school."
On the field, the focus is teaching competitive young people to learn how to play the game without the fear of mixing and matching different age groups. Pop Warner is the only youth football program which strictly enforces an age and weight matrix to ensure children play with others the same size, which reduces the risk of injury.
No personal statistics are kept during the games, because the program wishes to emphasize the accomplishments of the team and not the player.
"The ultimate goal is to have a league in every area, to get a group of kids to play together since they are little," Smith said. "That way, they can play in their high school coach's system for several years before reaching the high school."
Factoring significantly in Pop Warner's success are academic requirements which Smith says are very strong. In order to sign a child up to play, parents or guardians must provide last year's report card to prove the student has maintained at least a C average in his or her classes.
"I have seen tremendous progress in my son's academic performance just having that motivation to keep his grades up," Griffin said. "It's definitely competitive and for kids who are serious about football and ready to take their game to the next level."
To participate in Pop Warner football or cheerleading, students must be between the ages of 5 and 14. For more information about Pop Warner, visit www.popwarner.com.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Pop  Warner Football signups
10 a.m. Saturday, April 20 at Ledford High School
10 a.m. Saturday, May 4, North Davidson High School
10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, Central Davidson High School