North Lake Tahoe Pop Warner players recognized for academic achievements | SierraSun.com

North Lake Tahoe Pop Warner players recognized for academic achievements

Robert Green
Special to the Sun

Daniel Mendoza fights off a tackle durin a North Tahoe Rams game.

The North Lake Tahoe Rams were once again represented on the national stage at the 2017 Pop Warner All-American Scholar Weekend, where a pair of players landed on the All-American Scholar list.

Incline Village resident Shane Green attended the event in Philadelphia and was recognized as a Second Team All-American Scholar for the second year in a row. Green was selected for his accomplishments on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. This honor demonstrates that he was among the top 2 percent of all Pop Warner participants across the county.

As the only major youth sports program with a minimum grade point average requirement, Pop Warner prides itself on encouraging academic excellence through its Pop Warner Little Scholars Program (PWLS). PWLS awards scholarships to deserving eighth-grade students throughout the country, who have been recognized as First Team All-American Scholars. This year, one such recipient was Green's teammate on the North Tahoe Rams, Daniel Mendoza.

Mendoza received a $1,000 scholarship from the Bill Belichick Foundation. Mendoza made a name for himself in the Sagebrush Empire League as a hard-hitting running back, who demonstrated leadership both on and off the field.

"There are some great North Lake Tahoe Rams success stories," said Tim Cleary, former North Tahoe Rams coach and current linemen coach for the Incline High School Highlanders. "Former Rams athlete Daniel Mendoza — now playing for the Bishop Manogue Football Program — (exemplifies) the values of the Rams. He is a talented athlete, but his leadership, work ethic, and unselfish devotion to the team always set a great example. I expect he will always be successful, both on and off the field."

The scholar athletes who attended this year's PWLS All-American Scholar Weekend enjoyed an awards banquet featuring current and former NFL players and Olympic athletes. The players were entertained both days of the celebration by speeches from Villanova Head Football Coach Mark Ferrante, Villanova senior defensive back Rob Rolle, US Women's Hockey silver medalist Lyndsey Fry, Philadelphia Eagles' guard Brandon Brooks, New England Patriots' offensive tackle Nate Solder, ESPN's Mike & Mike cohost, Mike Golic, and his wife Christine Golic, who is a football safety advocate and member of the Pop Warner Board of Governors.

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The message that the attendees heard over and over is that football was just a game and not a way of life. In addition, the characteristics introduced and reinforced on the field, such as responsibility and leadership, will benefit players in the future.

Pop Warner has long been an advocate for the balanced athlete, where grades are just as important as athletic ability. In addition, safety has been the third pillar of the Pop Warner structure. Pop Warner has enhanced player safety by making USA Football's Heads Up Football training mandatory for all Pop Warner coaches. On a local level, the North Lake Tahoe Rams are equipped with the latest helmets. This combined effort on a national and local level has made youth football a safer game for children of all ages.

Several former North Tahoe Rams players have graduated from the program to the high school level and have found success playing under the Friday nights for the North Tahoe Lakers, the Incline High School Highlanders, and the Bishop Manogue Miners.