Pop Warner coaches attend clinic to prepare for season

League Commissioner Carletta Rice (L) and league President Brandon Negron gladly volunteer their time for the league because they love mak-ing a positive impact in the children’s lives.

Pop Warner coaches attend clinic to prepare for season
July 28
06:30 2016

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



Are you ready for some football? Although it’s not fall outside, football season is creeping closer each day. In preparation for its upcoming season, the Northwest Pop Warner Football League held its annual football clinic Saturday, June 23.

With new rule changes being implemented each year to help protect the safety of the players and to introduce the new coaches to what is to be expected from them, these clinics are vital for the success of the league.

The Northwest League is comprised of teams throughout the Triad.  There are currently eight associations affiliated with the league.

Each association is comprised of different age groups: Tiny Mite (ages 5,6 and 7), Mighty Mite (7,8 and 9), Junior Pee Wee (8,9 and 10), Pee Wee (9,10,11 and 12),  Junior Varsity and Varsity (middle school age children). The league has weight requirements to determine which division each child will participate in to ensure fair play.

According to league commissioner Carletta Rice, up until four years ago the league had 19 associations affiliated with the league, but some chose to leave for American Youth Football (AYF), while others chose to stay with Pop Warner.  Her son played Pop Warner as a youth and as he grew in the program, she volunteered and has done so ever since.

“The reason why I volunteer is because I believe in the product and I believe in the brand itself,” said Rice. “We believe in scholars and I saw how the league helped a lot of kids that were up against the odds.  Football was an escape and made life easier for them.”

The coaches and the league administrators are all volunteers. They all donate their time because of their love for working with the youth.  League president Brandon Negron, who is entering his fourth year, says he took over as president because he has sons and daughters who have come through the program and wanted it run the right way. After many teams in the league switched to AYF, some felt as though the league was struggling so he stepped in to help out.

“Pop Warner is the standard for youth football and cheer, so I made it my personal mission to revive the league and we have done that,” Negron said.  “I lead it because I believe in it.  The reason why I have this clinic is really for the rookie coaches. I need them to understand this is about making an impact in the lives of the kids.”

During the clinic, new rule changes for the year were discussed with the coaches.  Rule books were passed out to ensure each association knows what is and is not allowed on the field for each division in the league.  Mt. Tabor Head Coach Laymarr Marshall spoke to the coaches about the importance of hydration and how they should approach practicing on the field with their kids.  He also touched on the topic of concussions which has been a hot topic at every level of the sport.

Christopher Key of the Winston-Salem Vikings has been coaching in the league for over 30 years. This will be his final year coaching as he will retire at the season’s end.

“When I was coming up as a young man, my coach made a difference in my life; that’s the reason I have coached this long,” Key said.  “Seeing the kids mature and become viable citizens is the greatest satisfaction I have received. And the biggest thing I hope the kids have taken from me is the sense of family and teamwork because those things translate to the real world.

Dione Summers of the Greensboro Ravens said he remembers the impact his coaches had on him as a youth playing football and wanted to have that same impact on the young people he coaches now.  He says the most important thing is that the kids are out there having fun and learning the game of football. Summers feels that even though the game is under attack due to the attention placed on concussions, Pop Warner places player safety at the top of the list and gives their coaches the proper training techniques to teach the game correctly.

Vice President of the Ragsdale Youth Tigers, Ariel Ojeda, says he got into coaching because there were so many coaches who have had an impact on his life.  He loves teaching the youth the game and wants to emphasize safety and fun for the kids.

Negron and Rice feel as though Pop Warner is the best youth football league in the nation because of clinics such as these and the safety measures they take to ensure the safety of the children they also equip their coaches with the best training techniques available

They will kick off the season August 20 with a Jamboree.  The season starts with league play a week later on August 27.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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