Oct 8, 2013
A Knightdale Pop Warner player runs the ball against Cary Pop Warner on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.
As I’ve traveled around the eastern part of our state the last several years to call various high school football games I sometimes wonder, "What made some of these programs so consistent?"
For example, year after year Garner is at the top of its conference, and while it starts with a solid coaching staff and other various aspects, I think a lot of what makes a program successful year in and year out is a solid feeder program, and I’m not talking about the junior varsity team.
I’m talking about Pop Warner and other youth football leagues.
Don’t misconstrue what I am saying; junior varsity football is a tremendous tool and an excellent way to build a program. What I am saying is that in order to be a successful program you need kids who learn the game at a young age where they can begin to craft their skill set to compete when they reach the middle school and high school level.
We at HighSchoolOT.com have talked at length about Knightdale and how they are now contenders (and maybe the frontrunners) in the Greater Neuse River this season. One of the reasons why is they’ve begin to cultivate their talent and the kids have started to buy in to what the coaching staff is telling them.
When I was calling their game Friday night against Clayton, Knightdale had dozens of youngsters from their youth football program stream across the field at halftime, in hopes of one day being the next Knightdale football star.
Youth football leagues teach more than just the fundamentals of football, but life lessons like good academic skills, community involvement and learning how to become a productive citizen of your community.
This was taken directly from the Pop Warner web site, “The mission of Pop Warner is to enable young people to benefit from participation in team sports and activities in a safe and structured environment. Through this active participation, Pop Warner programs teach fundamental values, skills and knowledge that young people will use throughout their lives. Pop Warner seeks to provide fun athletic learning opportunities for children, while emphasizing the importance of academic success. Specifically, Pop Warner seeks to familiarize players and spirit participants with the fundamentals of football, cheerleading and dance. Pop Warner strives to inspire youth, regardless of race, creed or national origin, to practice the ideals of sportsmanship, scholarship and physical fitness.”
So if you want a successful high school program, get involved with the local youth football leagues, let the high school coach come and talk to the kids, let them see what it’s like to play on the field that maybe one day they’ll have a chance to play.
But even if that youngster doesn’t make as the next football superstar, he’ll have valuable lessons that he learned through playing athletics at a young age.