BY JAMES HARPER
Parents of kids who participate in Daytona Beach’s Pop Warner program can breathe a sigh of relief. On June 1 at Sunnyland Park, parents can register their youngsters to play football or be a member of the cheerleading squad for the season that begins in August.
Pop Warner Commissioner Thomas Roland met with Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson last week and worked out an agreement so that the fees for the league to use Derbyshire Athletic Fields for football practice and games will be covered.
“When we left the meeting, they assured us everything would be taken care of. I have to go to a meeting on the sixth of June (with other Pop Warner teams) to tell them we will be playing at Derbyshire athletic fields,’’ Roland said. He added that he is relieved he and the local volunteers can go ahead and sign up kids this Saturday at Sunny Land Park in Daytona Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Ritchey paid fees
As reported in the April 25 issue of the Daytona Times, the city charged Pop Warner to use the Derbyshire Park athletic fields for the first time last year.
Roland went before the commission (before Henry was mayor) asking for help after he learned about the change in policy, which would require Pop Warner to pay a fee to practice and play for the first time since 1998, when the program began in Daytona.
Former Mayor Glenn Ritchey, owner of several car dealerships, stepped in last year and footed the bill for the fees out of his own pocket.
This did not solve the problem for Pop Warner because it still would be required to pay the fee for years to come. Roland said the program can’t afford to do that unless it increases fees for youngsters to participate.
Tourney proceeds will help
Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson said the decision to charge the fee became necessary for budgetary reasons so the city is able to pay staff to upkeep, fertilize and maintain the areas where the teams play.
Williamson said the fee Pop Warner would have to pay to use the city-owned fields during the season is $8,300.
“We are going to work with them to help them get sponsors. He will get the sponsors he (Roland) needs to cover fees,” Williamson said, adding that part of the fees will be covered by proceeds from Mayor Henry’s charity golf tournament, which took place earlier this year.
Roland told the Daytona Times he was happy to hear the news that once again the fees won’t have to come out of Pop Warner coffers.
“We should be able to do something else with the money received instead of paying to rent the fields. We need new uniforms, equipment and more,” said Roland, noting that he and other adults associated with Pop Warner are all volunteers and receive no pay for their time.
Tutoring site sought
Roland also wanted to make it clear that what he is advocating for Pop Warner he also wants for the other local kids’ football programs.
He said his worry now is a building for the Pop Warner program to use for tutoring.
“We want a building all year round to tutor the students in academics. We used to use the building at Derbyshire Park. The city wants to charge for that too. We are trying to help the kids and the city want the kids to pay. We can only do so much,” Roland remarked.
Each Pop Warner participant, including players and cheerleaders, are charged $175 each, which covers their equipment, uniforms and their participation in the organization’s mentoring and tutoring programs.
Money raised also goes to paying for officials for the games, which can cost Pop Warner up to $1,200 a week.
About the program
The Pop Warner program currently runs from August to November. Roland said he would like to see them operate year-round so they can tutor and mentor the kids while they are in school. Without a permanent building, they are unable to do so.
The Daytona Beach Youth Football and Cheerleader Association is a Pop Warner Association started in 1998 and is dedicated to youth football and cheerleading for children ages 5 to 15. There are six divisions: Tiny Mites, Mitey Mites, Junior Peewee, Peewee, Junior Midgets, and Midgets.
Pop Warner strives to inspire young athletes and stress the importance of scholarship, teamwork, sportsmanship and citizenship, according to the organization’s website.
Daytona Beach’s Pop Warner was started 16 years ago by retired NFL star Wes Chandler. When he moved from the state, it was continued by Harvey Porter, then Glenn Barnes and current commissioner Roland.
For more information on Pop Warner, contact Roland at 386-852-2552.