05/31/09 — Local group puts together organization

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Local group puts together organization

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 31, 2009 2:00 AM

Future gridiron stars in Wayne County, a new day has dawned.

Pop Warner Football is coming to Goldsboro thanks to a few enterprising pigskin enthusiasts who saw a need for a county-wide football program that encompasses more than the basics.

"Pop Warner is a national organization that builds quality young men," said league president Maurice Simpson during a recent league meeting. "The kids have to bring their grades to the games in order to stay eligible and they learn that respect comes first."

Already a staple of youth sports in New Bern, Jacksonville and Havelock, Pop Warner gives children ages 5- to 15-years old the opportunity to play tackle football in a competitive -- but supportive environment. Unlike other youth football leagues there are no roster cuts.

"One thing that happens way too often is a kid gets cut when he's 10 years old and he just quits," said league vice president Doug Newberry. "Who's to say in four or five years that kid doesn't hit a growth spurt and become a capable player? But by then he has given up on the sport."

The new league will promote sportsmanship throughout Wayne County due to its unaffiliated stance with any single high school. Games will be played at Goldsboro High School, but that does not mean that potential players have to live within the city.

"We aren't lined up with one particular school, which means kids from Pikeville can play along side kids from Grantham or Mount Olive," said Newberry. "Pop Warner is meant to bring kids together, not build rivalries based on which high school they may or may not attend years down the road."

Getting the league off the ground has been an exhausting process for Simpson, his wife Kim, Newberry and coaches Drew Carson, Kiko Barnes, Jeff Ruffin and Tim Beaty. The group meets regularly to make sure that the league is headed in the right direction.

"This league is here and it's not going anywhere," said Kim Simpson. "When we started the process of building a new league we had to sign a contract that stated we would be involved on the board for a minimum of 2 years. The board is voted in and voted out."

Along with the six football divisions, the Goldsboro Pop Warner league will feature cheer and dance teams for each age group coached by Simpson.

Pop Warner gives parents an opportunity to get more than one child involved in the same activity in a safe environment. All coaches, league officials and volunteers must go through a comprehensive background check and each team must have two CPR certified coaches.

"It's really nice because I have two sons and two daughters, and they can all be a part of the same organization," said Carson. "I am coaching one son, Kiko is coaching my youngest boy and my daughters can cheer or dance if they want to. I don't have to worry about them because I know how safe the league is."

The season begins Aug. 1 and the board continues to seek volunteers. Positions range from assistant coach to trainer.

The next registration date for Pop Warner is June 13 at 128 Holmes Lane. For more information about the Goldsboro Pop Warner league, visit the Website www.goldsoborpopwarner.com or telephone (919) 330-5493.