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North Pop Warner prepares for season

August 15, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

For Pop Warner programs across the country, August 1 is like Christmas. Kids show up at practice fields to start the new season that is upon them.

Members of the North Fort Myers Junior Football Association from both football and cheer have been practicing for two weeks to get ready for the season that starts Saturday with the annual Jamboree in Cape Coral.

The Red Knights, who will be decked out in some of the neatest duds in the Peace River Conference this season, are looking to build on last season where two cheer squads made nationals and the Pee-Wee football team went deep into the Southeast regionals.

Article Photos

Members of the North Fort Myers Pop Warner pee-wee squad do warm ups during football practice last week at the North Fort Myers Community Park.

About the same amount of kids will participate in football and cheer, with about 180 football players and 90 cheerleaders, and unlike last year where Hurricane Irma wiped out two weeks of the season, the weather has been decent, with just one rainout and a handful of short lightning delays.

"Everything is running smooth. We have a great board this year, we revamped some things we had issues with last year and coaches have all bought in," said Christopher Reeves, the new athletic director. "We should have another successful season."

All six teams are filled for the season, including 24 on varsity, usually the toughest to fill. Ron Kelly returns after being at the high school to coach, along with his assistants, some of whom went to the now-defunct Cowboys organization.

The other teams have roughly 28 players, which Reeves said is a good amount because its easier to get the kids in the game.

This evening was sunny without a cloud in sight, giving the kids, who had just gotten into pads, a chance to do some hitting.

Board president Joy Moore had probably the toughest job; making sure the parents had all the paperwork in to make the kids eligible.

"We're getting the books together and the kids conditioned to make sure they get their hours in. Parents are coming in to make sure their paperwork is filled out correctly. If they forget something like report cards they have to come in," Moore said. "Everything has to be stamped and certified or they can't play."

Also inside was Robert Babcock, cheer coordinator, who was happy with the numbers, coaches and the talented girls he has, many of whom return from last year.

"Right now, we're still conditioning. Getting them out of summer shape and getting into where they have stamina and can compete," Babcock said.

Cheer will be in the small class in three divisions and medium in another three.

Amber Alvarez, junior varsity coach, was getting the girls to do the basics in cartwheels on the mat while getting the traditional cheers down. She said nearly everyone has experience cheering.

"We want to be ready for Jamboree and we were practicing skill motions with tumbling and jumps," Alvarez said. "Everyone on the team has cheered except for one girl, but for the most part everyone has done it."



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