As the fledgling East Georgia Pop Warner organization gets closer to football season, it already has a heavy hitter.
Charlie Beale, manager of the Columbia County Recreation Department from 1976-2010, recently accepted a position on the board as operations manager.
Beale was the recreation department’s second manager and helped the department grow from four baseball fields into an organization with major parks, including Patriots Park and Blanchard Woods Park.
Since his retirement, Beale has consulted for the city and county and spent time watching his grandchildren playing various sports.
“Seems like you have a lot of time when you retire, but you don’t,” Beale said. “I’ve been busy with my grandkids playing baseball and football, so I haven’t missed it much. We usually go out and watch games. This will just get me a little bit more involved, I guess.”
East Georgia Youth Football League President Burt Rayburn has known Beale since he started coaching youth football in Columbia County in 1984. Recently, he was the coach of one of Beale’s grandchildren and always saw him at the games.
“I was a proud member of his organization for about 28 years or so, and he always did an outstanding job,” Rayburn said. “If you’re going to build a boat, what better person than somebody who’s built a lot of boats as part of your crew.
“There’s just good general knowledge that Charlie brings to the table. He brings credibility from day one.”
Beale has long known about the Pop Warner program and is excited about the
opportunities it will bring.
“I’ve looked into it several times and looked at the program, and it’s an outstanding program for youth,” Beale said. “I think it can be essential to the county.”
Rayburn was quick to stress that Pop Warner isn’t trying to run Columbia County out of the youth football business.
“We’re offering an alternative,” Rayburn said. “We want parents and kids to have an option.”
Pop Warner costs $150 for those who sign up by June 1, and $175 after that. The fee covers jerseys, pants and socks. Players must provide their own helmets and shoulder pads.
For more information, go to www.eastgeorgiafootball.com.