A new program may give local youths something to cheer about. Registration for Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc., a sports program offering football, cheerleading and dance competition for youths ages 5-16, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Pop Warner, a national nonprofit group, will register participants at 4275 Washington Road, the old Brown Feed and Seed building, in tackle football, flag football, cheer or dance.
Interest has been high, said Leroy Craig, the president of the local chapter of Pop Warner.
Officials expect about 800 to register, "but if we get more, that's a plus," Craig said. "This is one of the best youth programs in the world," he said.
The organization stresses academics and athletic skills and will work with schools in tutoring participants who fall behind in their studies.
"Our academic program works with the local schools to track and monitor school progress/regression," according to Coach Emery Williams. Tutors will be local volunteers from the community.
The Pop Warner program should have no impact on sports programs offered through the Columbia County Recreation Department, Director Charlie Beale said.
Craig said the Pop Warner program would work around the schedule of the Recreation Department programs.
The local Pop Warner group will be part of the Southeast Region and will initially be offered in Columbia and Richmond counties. If interest grows, the program will expand, Craig said.
There will be seven divisions of tackle football based on age and weight. There are also four divisions for flag football based on age with no weight restrictions.
Cheer and dance squads are arranged according to age. Youths compete in football, cheer and dance at the local and regional levels, then may advance to a national competition held each December near Orlando.
The organization, named in honor of football coach Glenn "Pop" Warner, was founded in 1929 and serves more than 360,000 participants in 41 states and some areas overseas, according to a news release.
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