03/12/11 — Local Opinion: Wayne County Pop Warner

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Local Opinion: Wayne County Pop Warner

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 12, 2011 11:06 PM

Casual observations can lead to unique and interesting results.

A New Jersey native and alum of Pop Warner Football, Mario Re has watched closely how the area's two youth football leagues have operated the past two seasons.

He's ready to start his own.

So, move over Neuse River Youth Football League and Goldsboro Pop Warner, another football kid is about take residence on the block.

Re, the principal at Norwayne Middle School, is conducting an informational meeting and registration session Monday at 7 p.m. inside the Norwayne Middle School cafeteria. Residents throughout the county are invited to attend and hear Re's proposal for Wayne County Pop Warner Football and Cheer.

He contends his plan is not to overshadow the county's current leagues, but to give more children the opportunity to play.

"We know that if Pop Warner is run in the right manner, it could take over Wayne County eventually after a few years," said Re. "We know it will be a growth thing, get bigger as it goes on. We're in an area where the population is huge and in addition to the other leagues, we're another option for children."

Sponsored by NFL Football and founded by Joe Tomlin in 1929, Pop Warner is the oldest national youth and cheerleading organization in the world. More than 425,000 members compete in 140 leagues scattered in 44 states and seven countries worldwide.

The structured organization is school-friendly and is focused on safety. There are weight limits for all divisions and there is mandatory 12-play count for all players on every team. Teams must have a minimum of 20 players and no more than 30 on their roster.

Participants will practice daily until school begins, and then they're restricted to three practices per week during the season. Children must maintain their grades and attend school regularly to play.

"A lot of parents like the report card/attendance rule," said Re. "The practice schedule is attractive to parents, too. Plus, I can promote the program among the sixth-graders here because they can't play sports until they get in seventh grade.

"They're caught in limbo if they don't play Little Falcons."

Norwayne Middle School will be the home field for Wayne County Pop Warner Football. Re hopes to field a team in five different age divisions -- Tiny Mites (5-7 years old), Mighty Mites (7-9 years old), Junior Peewees (8-10 years old), Peewees (9-11 years old) and Junior Midgets (11-13 years old).

Wayne County will compete in the Eastern N.C. Pop Warner Youth Football League that includes teams from Craven, Onslow, Pamlico and Carteret counties. All contests are played on Saturdays.

Local businesses have donated to the organization and Re hopes that once word spreads of his venture, the league will receive additional help. He plans to seek the parents' help in fund raising and then get the players involved later in the summer. The Northwest Youth Sports Association has also jumped on the bandwagon.

Re has scheduled five organizational meetings in different areas of the county, and plans to branch out to Greene and Lenoir counties. He's seeking parents who must undergo training to become certified as either football coaches or cheer advisors through Pop Warner.

"All the coaches must go through mandatory training including classes on safety, equipment and risk management before they can step onto the field," said Re. "They will be fully interviewed. Also, the league is very sportsmanlike and there are rules against unruly fans and coaches. Coaches can get suspended for violating rules.

"I can promise you we are going to be structured and organized."