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Cheer carries torch for North Pop Warner

January 9, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It was a rough year for the North Fort Myers Pop Warner football program, as none of its five competitive teams reached the Peace River Conference championship game.

But it was a great year for the cheer program, which saw three teams go all the way to nationals in Orlando and while none won a championship, all three made great showings, finishing in the middle of the pack.

Junior Pee-Wees finished 11th out of 27 teams, while Pee-Wee and varsity were both was sixth out of 11 teams.

Article Photos

The North Fort Myers Pop Warner Varsity, Junior Pee-Wee and Pee-Wee cheer squads gather for a photo during nationals in Orlando last month.

Robert Babcock, cheer coordinator, said it was hard work on and off the field that helped them to compete against the best in the nation. The organization had to raise more than $10,000 for them to go.

"The kids fundraised their butts off. We had some generous parents and companies donate money and food for breakfast and snacks," said Robert Babcock, cheer coordinator. "It was nice that it was one day. Disney doesn't really cut you a break. Pop Warner requires you to stay at least one night at Disney. We were lucky we had two medium teams and a small."

It all started at the conference championships, where an entire season can be broken in a single two-and-a-half-minute performance, unlike in football where a loss can be made up for.

"Football teams have 40 minutes to make up for a mistake they made earlier in the game. In 2:30, there's no coming back from that," Babcock said. "And we can't really work on our routines when we have to practice for sideline cheer."

The Varsity, Junior Varsity and Junior Pee-Wee teams each won the Peace River Conference cheer-off, with the Pee Wees second.

After Junior Varsity was eliminated at regionals, the other three teams advanced to nationals by finishing in the top two in their respective divisions.

Babcock said the competition was stiff, with top programs nationwide.

"There were teams from Hawaii and California and Texas. Big areas where they have large teams," Babcock said. "People come to see football, but cheer is the hardest to advance in and win."



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