Scottsdale Pop Warner nurtures success in classrooms, on the field

Scottsdale Pop Warner athletes focus on goals on and off the playing field. (submitted photo)

Beyond the helmets, cleats and jerseys, Scottsdale Pop Warner’s ultimate goal is not to score the most touchdowns — but rather to produce leaders.

Focusing on the ideals and best interest of local children, the coaches and family members behind the pop warner teams seek to ensure a positive focus and emphasis for its players.

“We want our teams to be competitive on and off the field but our coaches understand that we must first make sure that our players are successful in the classroom,” Scottsdale Pop Warner Executive Director Justin Nielson said.

The Scottsdale Pop Warner group sees an average of 200 young boys and girls register for football or cheerleading. The sports entity has been in the community for over 40 years, and even has past players return to be coaches and members.

The goal to create a positive focus inside the classroom has created an environment comprised of helping and caring volunteers, Mr. Nielson says.

“During my coaching years with Pop Warner, while other teams were spending their Friday nights at high school football games or doing game film to study their opponents, our Wolves team would have volunteer SUSD teachers hold a homework/study time,” he explained.

“We never had a player fail inside the classroom during my seven seasons as a head coach within the organization. It’s all about academics first for our organization.”

With help from The Charro Foundation, Scottsdale Pop Warner is able to provide safety equipment needed for its players.

“The Charros are a very strong community partner to Scottsdale Pop Warner,” Mr. Nielson said. “Their funding and mentoring has allowed Scottsdale Pop Warner to purchase safe equipment for our players, provide safe fields for practice and game play, and allow us to continue to provide scholarships to the young in our community.”

Mr. Nielson says around 20 percent of their participants are provided with a scholarship to play.

“We love the support of our Scottsdale community,” he noted.

Families interested in registering for the fall season, or volunteers looking to help on Saturday mornings are encouraged to contact Scottsdale Pop Warner. According to Mr. Nielson, the group isn’t just a football team or a cheer squad — it’s a family.

“My favorite memory would be standing beside my players on the sidelines,” he said. “Our post game talks and prayers were always great because you knew that we were not just a team … but we were all one big family.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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