North Tahoe Pop Warner football — brawn and brains
Special to the Bonanza
September is always a month of change for Lake Tahoe residents. Traffic will start to moderate. Restaurant employees will get a chance to breathe.
And, hopefully, the historic number of yellowjackets sharing our outdoor meals will subside! But while our beaches have less sun worshipers, our local bleachers are packed with excited fans.
September, after all, marks the start of football season! For the children of the North Shore who are members of the local Pop Warner Football & Cheer Team, the North Lake Tahoe Rams, September could not come soon enough!
Football has been dealing with a poor image primarily due to two misnomers. The first is the stereotype that jocks, particularly football players, are all brawn and no brains.
The second is that football promotes concussions, made famous by a relatively recent movie starring Will Smith. Concussions are not the focus of this article, but it is worth recognizing that most of those pointing an accusing finger at the dangers of football can usually be found “hucking” themselves off cliffs and half pipes all winter long!
Football’s brawny image needs to be cleared away. The Pop Warner Organization has been part of American youth since 1929. There are more than 425,000 children playing football or are members of a cheer/dance team within the organization.
The Pop Warner system provides structure, guidance and camaraderie to children from all different social and economic walks of life. Believe it or not, one significant focus of the Pop Warner Organization is its emphasis on academic achievement.
Pop Warner is the only youth football program in the U.S. that requires players to meet scholastic minimums, and both recognizes and rewards scholastic excellence through the organization’s scholarship program, the Pop Warner Little Scholars.
Pop Warner Little Scholars (PWLS) was established in 1993 to draw attention to the importance of balancing academics and athletics. Since its inception, they have granted over $1.4 million in college scholarships.
Last year alone, they awarded $85,000 in college tuition assistance. While help with future college expenses is a dream for most parents, for a middle school aged child the meaning maybe less impactful.
That’s why Pop Warner holds regional banquets to recognize the academic accomplishments of their scholar athletes. In addition, there is a National All-American Scholar Banquet recognizing the top scholar athletes in the country.
This is not just stats about what others are doing and receiving. The North Lake Tahoe Rams had three cheerleaders and 10 players eligible for scholarship last year.
Four Rams players — Jack Morrison, Shane Green, Riley Rau, and Daniel Mendoza — attended the Regional PWLS Banquet in Reno this past April. And, on the national level, Shane Green found himself in Orlando, Fla. on Memorial Day Weekend to be honored as a National All-American Scholar Athlete!
Football is not a sport played by Neanderthals. Football provides collaborative discipline and camaraderie that adolescent boys and girls need. The North Lake Tahoe Rams play all their home games at Highlander Field in Incline Village.
This year we are proud to be fieldling two teams, Junior Pee Wee (ages 8-11) and Junior Varsity (ages 10-13). Make the time to check out these athletes on the field! Maybe next time your child brings up the idea of playing football or cheerleading, your first impression will be a bit more positive!