Marine Corps Base Hawaii --
More than 100 boys and girls gathered at Landing Zone Eagle, across the street from Fort Hase Beach, to practice for their first game of the football and cheerleading season with Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., a nonprofit youth football and cheer program.
This is the first year Marine Corps Base Hawaii is participating in the program. With a very American team name, the Patriots, they are the only military-based Pop Warner team on island. The season began Aug. 1, with practices and conditioning training.
“We did surveys,” said volunteer Tim Craig. “We wanted to make sure we’d have enough kids to play. We had a lot of interest so we had to request to do a military children based team.”
Pop Warner has programs in more than 42 states and several countries, making it the largest youth football and cheerleading program in the world, consisting of approximately 425,000 children ages 5 to 16.
The boys and girls were split into age groups around the field. The boys played on one side of the field, the girls on the other. Parents were scattered along the field in lawn chairs watching their children practice.
There are four different age divisions in the program: Tiny-Mites, ages 5 to 7, Mighty-Mites, ages 7 to 9, Pee Wees, ages 9 to 11 and Midgets for ages 12 to 15. The season will end in November except for Midget division players, who will travel to Florida in December to compete for the national championship.
The Patriots will play other teams around the island throughout the season. On Aug. 24, Aloha Stadium in Honolulu will host a Tiny-Mites division game.
Each age group has numerous volunteer coaches. Coaches include parents and active-duty Marines and sailors. Volunteers can help with funds, teaching athletics and mentoring the children.
“We can always use volunteers,” Craig said. “We (now) have seven board directors and 35 to 40 cheer and football volunteers.”
For information on volunteering visit http://www.patriotsnation.us.