BY DAVE MCCALLUM
The 2022 Pop Warner cheer and football seasons were something to write home about for the more than 100 Milford youngsters who participated in the program, which featured three football and three cheer squads. It included a bid to Nationals for one of the cheerleading squads, while a football team earned a bid to regionals for the first time in recent memory.
The jayvee cheer squad which consisted of 10- through 13-year-olds, placed at the regionals in New Jersey and earned a bid to the Nationals in Orlando, FL. The squad, however, decided not to compete at the Nationals due to a cost factor.
“It was very expensive (a minimum of $1,000 per girl) to go to the Nationals, and they (Nationals) ask for the money up front,” said Danielle Dixon, a member of the Pop Warner eight-person board. “When you (squad) find out you can go, you must pay the money a week later. The competition was in the first week in December and for us it just wasn’t feasible to ask parents to come up with that kind of money right before Christmas. So, what we did was continued on and combined the two teams (jayvee and Mighty Mite) with the girls that wanted to keep cheering and we took them to the Global Cheer Championships in February in Atlantic City (NJ). They did really well and finished second in their division.”
The Mighty Mite cheer squad, made up of seven through nine-year-olds, finished 10th out of 22 teams and missed earning a bid to Nationals by 3.5 points.
“Pop Warner was always a big part of my childhood,” Dixon said. “I cheered through all the years that I was eligible, and a friend and I came back and coached when we turned 21. And now, my kids (Cali and Luke) both participated and that’s how I got involved again. The season starts on Aug. 1, we practice throughout August, and we have (football) games on Saturdays in September and October, and the girls have cheer competition in October and November.”
On the football side, the 8U squad went 7-1 and got a bid to the regional championships in
Syracuse, NY. It is the first trip to the football regionals for a Milford squad that anyone on the Pop Warner board can recall, Dixon said.
Following the seasons, the program had its end-of-the-year banquet at the Ellendale Fire Hall where sponsors and coaches were recognized as well as giving out awards to the participants.
In addition to the football and cheer seasons, the Pop Warner program wanted to be more involved in community events, Dixon said.
“We wanted to be more involved in community events such as the Bug & Bud Festival, Third Thursday and Hippie Fest. We raised money also by selling concessions at the Milford High football games in the fall. We’ve also worked on getting sponsorships and one of the big ones was Equity Prime Mortgage. They purchased reversible football jerseys for our teams and bought out the concession stand one night after practice so everybody could have something to eat. We also received a sizeable grant from the Milford Lions Club, which bought all new cheer outfits for last season as well as an ice maker and other equipment that we needed for the building (Pop Warner Building on Lemuel St.)”
“For us, it’s more than just fall sports,” she said. “We spend a lot of time together. It really becomes like family. We’re trying to get back into the community, and I know there was a community cleanup day last year and we’re hoping to get involved with that this year.
“For the board, it’s year-round. We’ve been fundraising since the last season ended and trying to do a lot more for the kids and make sure that they get recognized for their academics, not just their football and cheer. Henlopen and Pop Warner have the Carl Walls and the All-American awards which are for scholastics. The kids submit their report cards to our local leagues, and kids with a certain GPA (grade point average) get those awards.”
Dixon said that older Pop Warner kids are eligible for scholarships.
The program had two in-person registrations in March and have plans for two more this month, with those being this Saturday (April 15) and April 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pop Warner Building at 1013 Lemuel St. The last registration day is the last one to take advantage of the program’s Early Bird registration fees. In addition, the fees for all five- and six-year-olds have been reduced. Also, only a $25 deposit is needed to register. Those interested can also register online at https://clubs.bluesombrero.com.
There are April fundraisers planned to include Tuesday (April 11), which is Surf Bagel Day with 10 percent of all sales being donated to the program. On April 29, there are two events. One is the program concession trailer will be at the Bug & Bud Festival downtown with food, treats and drinks. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will also be a chicken BBQ beginning at 12 noon until it sells out.
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