Inside Pop Warner Magazine (Summer 2020)

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Summer 2020



4 Letter from Jon Butler 6 R eturn to Play 8 T he 63rd Annual Pop Warner Super Bowl

34 Pop Warner Launches PW Authentic

40 Celebrating 2020 Scholars 42 Lessons from a Good Sports Dad

16 2019 National Cheer and Dance 44 Field Notes: Championships

24 Football Drill: Five-Yard Agility Box

Avery Makes the Call

47 Q&A with Yale’s Guglieri

Dick’s Pro Tips

26 Pop Warner, USA Football

48 Pittman Receives

29 KC Wolf Goes to the

50 NFL Stars Spend

Promote Development

NFL Super Bowl

30 Q&A: Stephen Anderson Los Angeles Chargers

32 Q&A: Renn Arvanitis Cincinnati Bengals


Pop Warner Award

Day with Kids

POP WARNER LITTLE SCHOLARS, INC. 586 Middletown Blvd., Suite C-100 Langhorne, PA 19047 Executive Director: Jon Butler National Football Commissioner: Sam Mutz National Cheer & Dance Commissioner: Lisa Moroski National Events Manager: Beth Dietz National Director of Scholastics: Nick Koshofer National Recruitment & Grand Coordinator: Kevin Allen National Business Partner Coordinator: Phyllis Farruggio Editorial Content: CTP Design/Layout: Ignite2X Pop Warner Photos: Gerardo Mora

2020 Panini Skills Clinic

54 How to Perfect Your Motions YCADA

58 Photos from 2020 Social Media Day

For Pop Warner info, visit:

© 2020 Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.


JON BUTLER Message on National Events Dear Pop Warner Community, First and foremost, I hope you and your families are healthy and safe. Much has happened since we closed out the season at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports last December, and I want you to know that the Pop Warner organization has been and will continue to be with you through it all. In March, the widespread outbreak of coronavirus reached the U.S., significantly impacting families and communities around the country. As a result, our National Staff has been working from home and staying current with the fast-changing medical information and governmental regulations to understand when, and how, our local programs can get started. Despite our inability to be together physically, more recent events including the tragic and senseless deaths in Minnesota, Georgia and Kentucky, and the ensuing protests, have in many respects brought us closer together than ever before. We’re reminded of the role each one of us plays in the fight against injustice and the call we must answer to create meaningful change. As I reflect upon the past few months, I’ve continued to ask: where do sports fit into all of this? And I keep coming back to something Nelson Mandela once said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” It is true. Time and time again, sport has changed the world. And now is no different. Through sport, we forge lifelong friendships and unbreakable bonds with teammates from different backgrounds. We unite and work together to achieve goals that sometimes seem impossible. We stand up for our teammates when times are toughest and fix the problems that need fixing.

We stand together, we fight together. All as one. More than ever, I believe it is important to have a season this year. Not only to give kids the chance to again participate

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in something they love, but to unite and continue teaching and playing out the values learned from sport – teamwork, brotherhood/sisterhood, unity, inclusivity, and accountability. While a sudden shift in the public health picture could alter our plans, we hope to have a season this fall. We are working diligently toward a Return to Play program and expect to begin rolling that out later in June. As always, we appreciate your support while we continue to take the appropriate steps towards a safe return to sports and being all together once again. Thank you,

Jon Butler

Executive Director Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.

- Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner

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2020 Regular Season For the last few months, the coronavirus outbreak drastically changed so much of everyday life, including sports. Professional sports were postponed, collegiate and high-school spring seasons were cancelled and so many more athletic activities were impacted. Thankfully, we’ve reached a point where we can begin to make our way back to the field, and that means, planning for

a safe and successful 2020 Pop Warner season.

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Like everyone from the NFL to the NCAA, Pop Warner is actively looking at scenarios, planning an approach and taking guidance from the experts. That has meant listening to the direction of the CDC, public health officials, our Pop Warner Medical Advisory Committee and government officials. The health and safety of our Pop Warner community – from our student-athletes to our coaches, fans and volunteers – has been our top priority since the beginning and will continue to be our top priority as we make decisions about returning to practice and play.

In addition to developing our Pop Warner Return to Play playbook, we’ve been working with several other youth sports organizations from around the country, as part of the PLAY Sports Coalition, to ensure that youth sports return safely and under the guidance of state and local guidelines. While a sudden shift in the public health picture could alter our timeline,

we expect to have our plan for return to practice and play to you later in June. In the meantime, we will

continue to use the Pop Warner website to keep you updated about the work we are doing to get ready for the upcoming season.

2020 National Championships Part of planning for the 2020 season also includes planning for our championship week. While Walt Disney World has been a tremendous host of our Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships for more than 60 years and we hope to continue that partnership for many more years to come, the pandemic is forcing us to find an alternative destination for 2020. COVID-19 struck as we were putting the final touches on our new agreement and it became necessary to shift our focus

to the pressing issue of whether Disney could host a championship week this year. Considering all the uncertainty around the pandemic, that possibility became increasingly unlikely. While our Return to Play will continue to be guided by the medical experts, we are fully planning on hosting national championships this year. As a result, we are moving to finalize arrangements on a new location in Florida for our 2020 championships and will keep you updated throughout the process.

We can’t wait to be together once again and embark on a Return to Play program that includes a season and a great Super Bowl and National Championship Week.

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The 63rd Annual Pop Warner Super Bowl 8 / INSIDE Pop Warner

Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was again the stage for an amazing week of national championshipship football this past December as more than 70 teams competed in the 63rd Pop Warner Super Bowl. There were lots of great stories as teams representing each region of the country put on a show with fun, competitive football played in an environment that exemplified true sportsmanship. National Champions were crowned in each age-weight and, for the first time, age-based brackets. Pop Warner student-athletes and their families enjoyed the Disney parks, including a Pop Warner-only party at Animal Kingdom, and many also had an opportunity to serve as extras in the Disney movie, ZOMBIES. INSIDE Pop Warner / 9

2019 Pop Warner

Super Bowl

National Champions Division 1 Junior Pee Wee: Virginia Beach Mustangs (VA) Virginia Beach Mustangs 20, Blackhawks AC 0

Division 1 Pee Wee: Blackhawks AC (PA) Blackhawks AC 13, Virginia Beach Mustangs 12

Division 1 Junior Varsity: Brick City Lions (NJ) Brick City Lions 34, Far West Jets 24

Division 2 Junior Pee Wee: Westside Wildcats (FL) Westside Wildcats 40, Oak Cliff Titans 0

Division 2 Pee Wee: Lake Mary Rams (FL) Lake Mary Rams 28, Durham Eagles 18

Division 2 Junior Varsity: Deer Valley Americans (AZ) Deer Valley Americans 40, Westchase Colts 16

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U10: Palmetto Raiders (FL) Palmetto Raiders 31 Lawrence Hurricanes 0

U12: Royal Palm Beach Wildcats (FL) Royal Palm Beach Wildcats 12 Stratford Redskins 8

U14: Titletown Titans (GA) Titletown Titans 14 Brick City Lions 8

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Alongside more than 70 Pop Warner football teams, over 513 cheer and dance teams traveled to Florida to compete in the National Cheer and Dance Championships inside the HP Field House at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Complex™. Congratulations to all those who participated and a special shout out to the 2019 National Champions.

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Souderton Braves (PW1 Sideline Performance Large)

Lake Mary Rams (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)

Cicero Falcons (PW1 Sideline Performance Small)


Marsh Creek Eagles (PW1 Sideline Performance Large)

RBA Silver Flames (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)

Naperville Chargers (PW1 Sideline Performance Small)


South Pasco Predators (PW1 Sideline Performance Large)

Lake Mary Rams (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)

Robbins Cal Park Eagles (PW1 Sideline Performance Small)

PEE WEE COED RBA Vikings Fire and Ice (PW1 Sideline Performance Cheer Medium) JUNIOR VARSITY

Hagerty Huskies (PW1 Sideline Performance Large)

Lake Mary Rams (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)

West Haven Seahawks (PW1 Sideline Performance Small)


Rome Colts (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)


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Hagerty Huskies (PW1 Sideline Performance Medium)

Northeast Vikings (PW1 Sideline Performance Small)




RBA Vikings Fire and Ice (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

Palm City Dolphins (PW 1 Show Cheer Large)

Amity Spartans (PW1 Show Cheer Large)

Merrimack Hawks Mini Xtreme (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

Jax Beach Jaguars (PW1 Show Cheer Small)

A&M Redbirds (PW1 Show Cheer Small)

Monroe Woodbury Crusaders (PW2 Show Cheer Large)

Watchung Hills Wolverines (PW2 Show Cheer Large)

Wolcott Eagles (PW2 Show Cheer Medium)

Temecula Valley Bears (PW2 Show Cheer Medium)

West Lynn Rams (PW2 Show Cheer Small)

Derby Red Raiders (PW2 Show Cheer Small)

Billerica Braves (PW3 Show Cheer Large)


Monroe Wolverines (PW3 Show Cheer Medium)

West Haven Seahawks (PW1 Show Cheer Large)

Kekaha Titans (PW3 Show Cheer Small)

Hamden Hurricanes (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

Mokena Burros (PW4 Show Cheer Large)

Derby Red Raiders (PW1 Show Cheer Small)

Woodbridge North Broncos (PW4 Show Cheer Small)

Cape Junior Cudas (PW2 Show Cheer Large)

Dracut Middies (PW2 Show Cheer Medium)


Sayreville Junior Bombers (PW2 Show Cheer Small)

Wilmington Wildcats (PW3 Show Cheer Large)

RBA Silver Flame (PW3 Show Cheer Medium)


Water Oak Indians (PW3 Show Cheer Small)

Naples Hurricanes (PW1 Show Cheer Large)

Oak Lane Wildcats Bombshells (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)


Mount Hope Cowboys (PW1 Show Cheer Small)

South Pasco Predators (PW1 Show Cheer Large)

Methuen Rangers (PW2 Show Cheer Large)

Naples Hurricanes (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

Coastal Cowboys Renegades (PW2 Show Cheer Medium)

Woodbridge North Broncos (PW1 Show Cheer Small)

Revere Junior Patriots (PW2 Show Cheer Small)

Monroe Wolverines (PW2 Show Cheer Large)

Edgewood Eagles (PW3 Show Cheer Large)

Derby Red Raiders (PW2 Show Cheer Medium)

Taunton Tigers (PW3 Show Cheer Medium)

West Covina Bulldogs (PW2 Show Cheer Small)

West Elmwood Intruders (PW3 Show Cheer Small)

Burlington Patriots (PW3 Show Cheer Large)

RBA Vikings Purple Reign (PW4 Show Cheer Large)

Taunton Tigers (PW3 Show Cheer Medium)

Toms River Angles (PW4 Show Cheer Small)

La Costa Canyon Mavericks (PW3 Show Cheer Small)

Pine Hills Trojans (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

Rome Colts (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)


Clay Rebels (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

RBA Vikings Fire and Ice (PW1 Show Cheer Medium)

CORE CHEER MITEY MITE – Fishhawk Wolfpack JUNIOR PEE WEE – Boca Braves PEE WEE – Manasquan Warriors

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DANCE DIVISIONS POM MITEY MITE – Wekiva Cardinals JUNIOR PEE WEE – Satellite Beach Seahawks PEE WEE – Pine Hills Trojans JUNIOR VARSITY – Ft Myers Firecats Blaze VARSITY – TriTown Raiderettes

HIP HOP MITEY MITE – Leesburg Jackets JUNIOR PEE WEE – Rochester Rams PEE WEE – Rochester Rams JUNIOR VARSITY – Rochester Rams VARSITY – Palmetto Raiders

THEME DANCE MITEY MITE – RBA Vikings Purple Reign Drops JUNIOR PEE WEE – Riverdale Wildcats PEE WEE – Rochester Rams JUNIOR VARSITY – Rochester Rams VARSITY – Southwest Colts

CHALLENGER TEAMS Central Massachusetts Stars (MA) Avalon Wolves (FL) Rockland Magic (NY) Ormond Beach Sandcrabs (FL) Manchester Eagles (NH)

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Scholars Banquet 22 / INSIDE Pop Warner

100% Free


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Football Drills


Utilizing only four cones, these drills can help boost your swiftness on game day. Looking for drills to help improve your agility on the football field? Try adding these five-yard agility box drills to your practice. All you need is four cones and some space to get started. To set the box up, place four cones in a square. Try to keep five yards between each cone.


The first drill requires you to only utilize the outside of the box. When running through this drill, try not to perform it with too much space between you and the box. “Try to keep it tight,” Division I football coach Chris Merritt says. Begin this drill by standing next to one of the cones and facing away from the box. Perform the drill by:

• Backpedaling to the first cone. • Shuffling to the second cone. • Sprinting to the third cone. • Shuffling to finish. You should end the drill at the cone you started.

You can change this drill up some by replacing shuffling with karaoke. This is a movement that starts by crossing your right foot in front of your left leg. You’ll then step out with your left leg before following with your right foot behind your left. Repeat this movement down the line. Again, start by standing next to a cone and facing away from the box. Then, run through the drill by:

• Backpedaling to the first cone. • Karaoke to the second cone. • Sprinting to the third cone. • Karaoke to finish. You’ll end at the cone you started at.

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Watch ProTips: Five-Yard Agility Box


You can also run drills that move you away from the perimeter and utilize the angles though the center of the box. “We’re not going to stay on the perimeter,” Merritt says. “We’re going to go ahead, and extreme angle cut coming down the outside.” The first drill starts by standing next to a cone and facing the cone next to it. You’ll perform this drill by:

• Sprinting to the first cone. • Cutting to the cone diagonally across from it. • Shuffling to the end. You should finish at the cone you started at.

The next drill begins with you standing next to the cone and away from the box. “When we open up, let’s try to keep our shoulders and our face pointed as if we’re using an imaginary line of scrimmage,” Merritt says. You’ll run through this drill by:

• Cutting through the box to the cone diagonally across from the starting cone. • Sprinting forward to the second cone. • Moving across the box to the cone diagonally across from the second cone. • Finish by sprinting through the final cone. This should be the cone you started at.

Throughout this final drill, keep your eyes on the imaginary line of scrimmage. You’ll need to turn your upper body and look over your shoulder when moving across the box. The five-yard agility box is simple to set up but can pay dividends on game day. Try adding these drills to your workout to boost your agility on the gridiron. Looking for more drills to improve your football skills? Single Leg Hops uses agility ladders to improve your change of direction and explosiveness. Check out these agility ladder drills that can help improve both your speed and agility.

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ACHIEVING LEAGUE EXCELLENCE We don’t just want to be a league out there; we want to be the best league in the country. We want to adopt all the correct principles and standards. We want to be able to teach and mentor and give all the assistance to these coaches that are volunteering all this time...for the end results of our kids.


Pop Warner has teamed up with USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, in a move they hope will benefit our youth football players and their families. Under the partnership to develop and promote safer and smarter play, Pop Warner is encouraging its leagues to earn recognition within USA Football’s League Excellence Program, which will recognize and promote leagues that adopt its Football Development Model (FDM). Pop Warner was the first national organization to endorse FDM, which is designed to make the game safer by teaching based on an athlete’s age, the skill they are learning, game type, and ultimately reducing contact.

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“We have long been focused on making football even more fun, safer and better for young people, while retaining what makes our great game so special,” said Pop Warner Little Scholars Executive Director Jon Butler. “USA Football is a great partner and a leader in our game, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on approaches like FDM that support the best interests of the young people who love this sport.” “We’re proud to be working in partnership with Pop Warner to shape the future of football,” CEO & Executive Director of USA Football Scott Hallenbeck said. “Together, we look forward to advancing smarter and safer play through our Football Development Model for football families nationwide as well as working to educate policymakers of our commitment to reimagining the game.”







The Football Development Model (FDM) is USA Football’s new initiative designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and teaching in a way that meets an athlete where they are in their development.


The foundation of the Football Development Model is based on six pillars. When working together, these pillars create the blueprint for the football community to create better athletes.

LEAGUE EXCELLENCE PROGRAM As your organization implements the Football Development Model, you illustrate your organization’s commitment to raising your operational standards to what your athletes deserve and parents expect. Take the next step to bring success to your league by becoming a USA Football Recognized League.

PUT ATHLETES FIRST Create the best environment for young athletes to learn, thrive and mature into better players and people.

ESTABLISH CREDIBILITY WITH PARENTS Demonstrate to parents your commitment to their kids and the quality of your organization when you earn a USA Football designation.

Learn more at

RAISE THE BAR Show your dedication to growing the sport the right way and be a model for other leagues in your community, your state and even nationwide.


@ riddellsports

Our friend KC Wolf knows something about Super Bowls. He’s shown his moves on the fields at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports during a few editions of the Pop Warner Super Bowl mascot game. But this year the Chiefs mascot got a taste of the NFL version of the big game when Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City knocked off the 49ers in SB LIV. Well done.

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How did you get involved with Pop Warner? STEPHEN: I got involved with Pop Warner at age 7 when my friends from the flag football league started playing.

What is your favorite Pop Warner memory? STEPHEN: My favorite Pop Warner memory was in my third year when we went to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and placed third in the nation.

Tell us about your Pop Warner team / coach. Who was your team’s biggest rival? STEPHEN: I played for the Coyote Creek Wildcats and our biggest rival was Oak Grove. We had a lot of good athletes on our team. About 6 of us went on to play D-1 football and 3 of us, including me, got the opportunity to play in the NFL.

Are you still in touch with any of your Pop Warner teammates? STEPHEN: I am in touch with a lot of people from my Pop Warner teams. Probably about 10-15 of them.

Is there anything you learned playing Pop Warner that you’ve carried with you through adulthood (and into your NFL career)? STEPHEN: One of the most important things I had to learn that I still keep with me today is how to be a good teammate. That was the biggest team I had ever been on at that point in my life and I got to understand that the closer we were, the better we were on the field. 30 / INSIDE Pop Warner


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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. RENN: I grew up in Northern Indiana, where I also attended college at Purdue Northwest. I earned my degree in Communications in just three years, which has enabled me the time I have now to focus and enjoy being a Cincinnati Ben-gal. I commute to Cincinnati for practices, team events and games. When in Indiana, I coach and teach around 200 dance students a week.

Tell us about your time with Pop Warner growing up. RENN: My parents have been involved with Pop Warner for 30 years, so I essentially grew up either on the football field or at the football field. My fondest memories were dancing in my Pop Warner years. From teamwork, to scholastics, to fitness, Pop Warner values have always been and continue to be a mainstay of my life.

How long have you been a Bengals cheerleader and what do you like about it most? RENN: Last season was my first year as a Bengals cheerleader. I am overwhelmed by the sisterhood that this team has given me. Being on the field and performing at this level is a dream come true. I am grateful for this opportunity and hope to continue for a long and fulfilling career. 32 / INSIDE Pop Warner

Photo by Steve France

How did Pop Warner prepare you for the world of professional cheerleading? RENN: My love for being on the field, for football, for fitness, for discipline and performing was ignited at the Pop Warner level. I cannot imagine a season without football and cheer and dance, it is surely a part of me.

RENN: If I had to choose one thing, it would be the feeling of accomplishment when a team is competing. The culmination of all aspects of the sport comes down to 2 minutes and 30 seconds, feeling the electricity and the emotion from the kids is something I love. Seeing their faces and their level of commitment is amazing.

The team you coach, the Tri Town Raiderettes, won first place in the National Championships last year. What was the key to success?

Photo by Steve France

What do you like most about being a Pop Warner dance coach?

RENN: When I was a Pop Warner participant myself, I was fortunate enough to win first place at nationals a few times, which were some wonderful memories. However, seeing the team I mentored and coached win in 2019 was amazing. The key to the success was never giving up. The team dug deep and worked so hard on technique. Never have I been so proud. Pop Warner teaches life lessons; I know the girls will carry with them.

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Pop Warner Launches

This season, Pop Warner athletes will be sporting new threads as a result of a move that simplifies an often complex ordering and shipping process.

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There’s nothing better than putting on a new jersey for the first time. For young athletes especially, uniforms are a big deal. They’re a fashion statement, but also a representation of something more. To many, it’s the first time they look – and feel – a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a moment filled with a sense of belonging, accountability, responsibility and unity. But, as exciting and sentimental as that moment is, the process it takes to get there is sometimes stressful. Ask any coach, manager or team volunteer, and they’ll tell you – ordering uniforms can be a pain point. Delayed shipments, expensive price points, incorrect colors and sizes – and that’s just the beginning. Over the years, Pop Warner recognized those challenges and decided to do something about it. That something was PW Authentic – the organization’s own brand of custom-designed tackle football, flag football and cheerleading uniforms. “We knew there could be a better way,” said Jon Butler, Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “Our young athletes want cool, stylish uniforms and our volunteers want an easy, inexpensive and reliable process. With PW Authentic we can check all those boxes.” Committed to ending the complexities and challenges that come with the uniform ordering process, PW Authentic, which launched this February, allows the 1,450 Pop Warner programs around the nation to easily order customized, low-cost uniforms made in the U.S. and get them delivered in just 5-10 days. In addition, the new uniform provider also enables teams and athletes to be part of the custom design process – instilling an even greater sense of excitement and pride for participants putting on a new uniform. “With PW Authentic, Pop Warner associations are going to have a stress-free route to getting the uniforms they want, when they want them,” said PW Authentic’s Stuart Martin. “We’re excited for everyone – from those ordering the uniform to those wearing the uniform – to have a memorable experience.” Logo dye sublimation available with PW Authentic

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MADE EASY For every chair purchased with your team logo, we’ll donate 20% of the proceeds to your team!

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Have it your way! You want a quality football uniform for a low cost, from a manufacturer you can actually talk to. And you want to look good, too. AVAILABLE BY PHONE, EMAIL, IN PERSON 24/7 SUPPORT & DESIGN TEAM COLOR SWATCHES AND SAMPLES AVAILABLE UNIFORM SIZING KITS 5-10 DAY TURNAROUND NO MINIMUMS ON ADD ON ORDERS QUALITY CONTROL MEASURES


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Offering a 15% discount at



NFL Alumni, President

"The initial results have been outstanding, as they've distinctly shown our participating NFL Alumni members that it is without a doubt possible to achieve improved brain health..."

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Pop Warner All-American Little Scholars


Nearly 4,500 scholar athletes are being recognized for their hard work in the classroom and the community. Being named all American Scholar means you’re among the top 1.5% of all Pop Warner participants across the country. Around this time each year, the Pop Warner community typically gathers to celebrate these scholar athletes at its All American Scholar gala, but this year, we are celebrating a bit differently. Although we are not together to celebrate, that does not diminish the incredible success that these scholars have achieved. They have lived up to the standards and exceeded the expectations that Pop Warner requires of its athletes. As the only national youth sports organization in America that requires its participants to perform adequately in the classroom before permitting them to play, we are committed to success both on and off the field. Why? Because we believe

the standards we set give our young people a sense of responsibility and an appreciation for academics and athletics that will help develop later on in life. In video messages shared with student scholars, NFL analyst and Madden 20 announcer, Charles Davis, and Master of Ceremonies, Michael Michael Cain Pop Warner Scholars Cain, as well as Pop Master of Ceremonies Warner’s Jon Buter, congratulated the All Americans on their astonishing achievements in the classroom. “This is a great time in your lives. Cherish it. It is fantastic,” said Davis. “Look at the success you’ve had already, but I urge you to look forward as well. So much more success to come...Make sure you dream big, but chase those dreams even bigger.”

Jon Butler Executive Director of Pop Warner

To see those who have been named as Academic All-Americans this year, visit Charles Davis NFL analyst and Madden 20 announcer 40 / INSIDE Pop Warner

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Lessons from a Good Sports Dad By Ken Newman

He didn’t question the coach during the game or after the game. He simply enjoyed watching his son compete and be part of the team. He enjoyed his son’s thorough love of the game.

As we approach Father’s Day and I reflect on my childhood and high school athletics career, I realize that I was blessed to have a top-notch sports dad who taught me so many lessons that I carry with me today. As a dad and a fan of my high school basketball games, he was visible. I knew he was there. He’d always bring his Nikon camera to snap pictures of me and my teammates, which would provide great memories later on. He would cheer appropriately; compliment my teammates on a hardfought game; share in a little banter and say hello to the coach. He’d then leave with mom and we would discuss the game briefly when I got home.

As my coach when I played youth sports, he pulled no punches and expected me to toe the line like everyone else. He didn’t bark instructions or get mad at mistakes; he provided support and offered advice. He helped me and my teammates achieve OUR goals and enjoyed seeing us succeed. He loved the camaraderie of his fellow coaches, but truly enjoyed knowing the kids. As a father, he taught me the games I played. He taught me baseball. After his long day of work and a commute into NYC, he didn’t hesitate to head out after dinner to hit me some fly balls or have a catch or throw me batting practice.

But perhaps his greatest gift came when I was 10 and shifted my focus from his sport – baseball – to pursue my own passion, basketball. Dad was passionate about baseball and I was good, too. I am sure he was disappointed that I stopped playing but instead of pushing me or expressing his disappointment, he bought me a hoop for the driveway. He had a huge smile, maybe bigger than mine, as it was installed. He reveled in our driveway battles, but I think he took greater enjoyment from seeing me get so much out of that grand gesture. We often don’t realize things until we get older, but a good sports dad can reap immeasurable rewards.

He would battle me on the tennis court, enjoying the competition and banter with his highly competitive son.

The key to being a positive sports dad, or any sports parent for that matter, is quite simple: Be Present: Let your son or daughter know you made it to their game. They will remember it! Be a Fan: Take enjoyment in your child and their team. Be conscious of how your vocal abuse of coaches or berating officials impacts them. It’s embarrassing. Be a Coach: Volunteering your time is never easy but if you have the opportunity to share those competitive moments with your child they are forever memories. Just remember to not focus entirely on your child. It’s a team sport and there’s nothing like seeing everyone grow and work together to achieve. 42 / INSIDE Pop Warner

Be Supportive: At the end of the day, it isn’t about what we want as parents; it’s what your kid wants. If they aren’t good at football, that’s not a reflection on you. But if they enjoy what they are doing, that is a reflection on your love and support. I recently lost my dad, but as sad as it is I will never lose the memories he created for me. So if your dad stands behind you and is a positive influence in your athletic pursuits, express your gratitude for having a great sports dad. You won’t regret it.

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On a chilly November 17th, when the gritty LaPorte Slicers Jr. Pee Wee team won the Mid-America D-2 Regional Championship at Kiwanis Stadium in Northwest Indiana’s “Maple City” sending them to sunny Florida and ESPN Wide World of Sports for competition in Pop Warner Super Bowl Week, they made sure to bring two sets of jerseys and all their equipment, of course. They also made sure they had one very important person joining them. Good thing they did. For, as it turned out LaPorte 8th grader Avery Walma quickly became a star in his own right at Pop Warner Super Bowl 63. Yep, the minute he began providing his clear, dynamic, spirited, accurate and informative “call” on each play from his perch in one of the press boxes above & adjacent to football fields around the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, “Avery The Announcer” became an instant fan favorite. “There’s a run off-tackle for six yards and a Slicers… FIRST DOWN!” Avery isn’t one bit bashful about speaking in public. Plus, his engaging demeanor makes him a great communicator; and all of that despite facing a double-whammy of physical challenges in recent years. 44 / INSIDE Pop Warner

As Avery explains, “Back in July, 2015, I had brain stem surgery to remove a tumor. It went well, and after recovery I wanted to get back to playing Pop Warner football.” But, that wasn’t the end of Avery’s challenges. “Two years later, I broke my back. In December, 2017, I had another surgery. This time they put in a metal plate and screws to stabilize everything. But, again…I loved football. And, I wanted to find some way of staying with the game.” That’s where Avery and his dad John Walma started doing some research. They visited press boxes during LaPorte High School games, and with Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” home games in nearby South Bend . “It was amazing, seeing and analyzing a game from that perspective,” recalls Avery. “I got interested, right away, in the idea of becoming an announcer “. Turns out, Avery was a natural. After his first turn manning the PA microphone at Kiwanis Stadium in LaPorte, Avery found himself assigned to call all Greater LaPorte Pop Warner games. “Then, in November, when the Slicers Jr. Pee Wees became the first LaPorte football team in the association’s 40 years to qualify for the Pop Warner

National Championships, Mr. Chris Brooks (Operations Director with Pop Warner Mid-America) suggested that I also go along to call games.” Once he got to ESPN Wide World of Sports , “Avery The Announcer” became an instant hit. So appealing was his signature “call” of the first round Slicers’ game that Avery was assigned to other games, and other teams, as well! And, what did Avery think of the experience?

“Oh my gosh, it was amazing. Calling games of Field 23 on a Sunday, then more games on Field 17, on Tuesday. And, I made sure to prep on names and positions of players before each game.“ Fans all around the WWOS Complex praised Avery’s style in calling the game, and also his diligence in “getting the pronunciation correct” on all player names. “Some of the Hawaiian team names were a bit challenging. But, if I was not sure, I would check with coaches or volunteers in pre-game to make sure I had it right. People appreciated that.” And now, what about a future career in announcing; like high school or college, and then? “ Yes, I’m interested in that,” says Avery. “ But, I’m also interested in officiating.” And, again John Walma is all-in on giving Avery yet another opportunity; this time through a program geared to preparing officials for another tough challenge. As John tells us: “Our Northern Indiana Pop Warner League is home for the Grassroots Officiating Program. Larry Babcock (Mid-America’s Director of Age-Based Football) heads up this Grassroots Program which trains local high school students to be football officials. Avery wants to get into that, as well.” Great perspective from the booth, on the field, and who knows? Maybe, someday, Avery Walma may turn his interests to team management. It’s all part of the magic that can open up for a Pop Warner participant with talent and a passion for learning and doing! Thanks to “Avery The Announcer” for helping to make this 63rd Pop Warner Super Bowl Week a treasure of sight and sound for all!

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DEPUTY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AT YALE Many young athletes grow up dreaming of playing sports professionally, but the reality is only a small fraction go on to compete at the most elite levels. According to the NCAA, nearly eight million students participate in high school athletics, but just 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes, and only a select few within each sport move on to compete at the professional or Olympic level. While athletics and the experiences that come with it can provide many opportunities and valuable lessons, it’s important to prioritize academics. There’s a reason why we use the word “student-athlete,” and why the word “student” comes first. Education is vital and serves as the foundation for everything else. Since the beginning, Pop Warner has held its participants to the highest academic standards because we know excelling off the field is just as important, if not more, than on the field. As a young athlete, it can sometimes be hard to understand why school matters and how to balance playing a sport and being a student. So, we spoke with the Deputy Athletic Director at Yale to learn more about the importance of academics and what it takes to succeed both on and off the field. Describe your role at Yale and your experience working with student-athletes. I am the Deputy Athletic Director at Yale. I oversee many internal operations of the athletic department, and specifically oversee the football program. Pop Warner Little Scholars encourages young athletes to strive for academic excellence. What is one thing coaches, league administrators and parents can do to help encourage superior work ethic not only on the field, but in the classroom? Continually remind our students that academics is what will open the doors for them to continue to pursue their athletic goals. Performing well academically will provide such broad opportunities for them to pursue their passions on so many different levels. In addition, excellence in the classroom is what college coaches will look for. They will want to see student-athletes who are students first and showing that same level of tenacity, and focus on the competition field as they do in the classroom. What is special about being a student-athlete in college? (Specifically, what is it like being a football player at Yale?) Yale is world-class and the opportunity to be surrounded by the best and brightest minds in the world is a spectacular experience. In addition, you have the chance to compete at the highest level of college sports in NCAA Division I. What are the most common challenges facing student-athletes? Time management without question. Those who successfully manage their time will succeed. The ability to effectively and efficiently manage your time is one of the best traits you can possess if you are a student-athlete. What skills are necessary for student-athletes to balance school and sports? Laser focus and time management are certainly key. I would also add that getting enough sleep and living a healthy lifestyle are important factors that will contribute greatly to success. What is one piece of advice you would give young people who aspire to be collegiate student-athletes? Ask for help when you need it. Being a college student-athlete is incredibly challenging, but you will be surrounded by so many people that are willing to help as long as you are brave enough to ask for it.

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USC Star Accepts 10th Annual Pop Warner Award A highlight of Pop Warner Super Bowl week is always welcoming a college football star who has excelled in the classroom, on the field and in the community. Former USC captain Michael Pittman Jr., and recent 2nd round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts, accepted the 10th Annual Pop Warner College Football Award. Pittman is one of the nation’s top pass catchers and a driving force for the Trojans offense. Recently named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, he is second in the nation in catches and eighth in touchdown receptions. During his college career he’s had 165 receptions for 2,446 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns. Pitman is also a sociology major and is scheduled to graduate this May. He’s been equally committed off the field. Pittman recognizes the importance of his platform and wants to utilize it to be an inspiration to others. He’s one of USC’s most active studentathletes across all 21 sports at the university and has been involved in a wide variety of community service projects, both through USC’s Trojan Outreach program and on his own. Among his many community efforts, Pittman has volunteered with Project Hope, a program that provides young people in and

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around LA with a safe and supportive learning environment where they can achieve their highest potential; has sponsored a child through Compassion International, a humanitarian aid child sponsorship organization; and speaks at local elementary schools about the importance of getting a college education. “I am extremely humbled and honored to win this award— especially as a Pop Warner alumnus,” said Pittman. “My community service work started in junior high when I would help out in my stepfather’s special education classroom, and I’ve continued to make it a priority in my life. I like to lead by example and I’m always trying to do the right thing in order to be a good role model for the next generation of young athletes.” “Michael embodies everything we look for in a role model for our current Pop Warner student athletes. Not only does he excel on the field and in the classroom, but he is passionate about supporting others through community service,” said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “Michael is someone who has the power to motivate and inspire the next generation and we hope to see our young athletes pay that forward when they get to college.”


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The 13th Annual Panini Pop Warner Skills Clinic was held January 31, 2020, in Miami as part of NFL Super Bowl LIV festivities. The special event featured stars DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks, Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers, Teddy Bridgewater of the New Orleans Saints and Josh Jacobs of the Oakland Raiders. Also on hand were Alabama stars Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy, who were recently drafted by the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos, respectively, as well as Liberty standout Antonio Gandy-Golden, who was drafted by the Washington Redskins. Will Shields, an NFL Hall of Famer, also participated in the event.

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how to

PERFECT YOUR MOTIONS bring it back to the basics! Whether performing a simple jump or a complex stunt, technique is vital. Every move must be executed correctly and with proper form. As we patiently wait for cheer season to start, now is the perfect time to bring it back to the basics and master your moves! It’s always best to start slow before moving on to more difficult areas. So our friends at JAMZ and YCADA helped us break down some of cheerleading’s most popular motions. See if you can master these moves! Practice makes perfect!

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SIZES YOUTH: XS (12-13), S (1-2)

customizable breathable


ADULT: M (5-6), L (7-8), XL (9-10), XXL (11-12)


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Check out #popwarnercheeranddance for all the images and videos

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Make it Authentic.

A DIVISION OF POP WARNER LITTLE SCHOLARS For Additional Information on Football and Cheer Uniforms, call: 1-888-664-0920 Learn more at:

CHAMPIONS COME TO PLAY ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is proud of their long history with the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships



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