By Cassie Galasetti |
Asbury Park Pop Warner president Teddy Wilson huddled his team together hyping them up for practice and their first game of the season Aug. 25. Currently the Asbury Park Pop Warner program has 25 kids, ranging from ages 8 to 11, who have been working hard to learn the fundamentals of the game.
Wilson has been running the football program since 2014, taking after his father who was president in the ’90s. All together, Asbury Park Pop Warner, including football and cheerleading, has been around for more than 20 years and has provided an outlet for hundreds of kids throughout that time.
“This program benefits kids by keeping them off the streets for two hours a day, 10 hours a week and a few months out the year,” said Wilson. “We try to be role models and father figures for the kids who may lack parenting and family.”
Pop Warner helps encourage teamwork and leadership skills, teaching kids how to work well with others on and off the field. It keeps children busy and provides something and someone to look up to.
However, the cost to be involved in this beneficial program can be too much for some families. To be a part of the Pop Warner team used to cost $150; that price was dropped to $100 to compete with another league in Asbury Park. Unfortunately there has been some animosity between the two leagues, making it harder for Wilson’s pro- gram to successfully provide everything it needs for the team.
Now Wilson and volunteers – and the pint-sized players and spirit squad members who dance and cheer – spend their time helping raise funds through bake sales and “canning” – soliciting donations with cans in front of shopping centers and other locations.
Many of the benefits of youth football are evident, particularly when it comes to health. It increases cardiovascular fitness and stamina, offering a fun way to build strength, while ball handling helps improve hand-eye coordination.
The exercise overall even helps decrease anxiety and depression in some players who are susceptible to those ailments.
And what would a football team be without cheerleaders? Asbury Park Pop Warner Spirit teams cheer on the sidelines at football games for home and most away games bringing pep and enthusiasm to the competitions.
Pop Warner seeks to familiarize players and spirit participants with the fundamentals of football, cheerleading and dance. The program strives to inspire youth, regardless of race, creed or national origin, to practice the ideals of sportsmanship, scholarship and physical fitness as reflected in the life of the late Glenn Scobie “Pop” Warner.
Over the years, youth football has become one of the most popular sports for young kids. Not only for its physical benefits but for building character in young kids. According to the Asbury Park Pop Warner website, the group seeks to provide fun athletic learning opportunities for their children, while emphasizing the importance of academic success. There are no tryouts or cuts to their teams – everyone who signs up gets to participate. That is a rare policy that not all sports teams follow.
Asbury Park Pop Warner will play their first game Aug. 25 and they still need to pay for insurance fees and equipment they no longer have. Their fundraising efforts are still not enough to keep the program going.
Donations can be sent to the Asbury Park Pop Warner program, 141 Anelve Ave., Neptune NJ 07753, to help purchase equipment for the upcoming season.
This article was first published in the August 23-30, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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