The term “scholar-athlete” is synonymous with the Pop Warner program. It’s included right there in our organization’s official name: Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
Pop Warner remains the only national youth sports organization in America that requires its participants to perform adequately academically before allowing them to participate. However, the importance of academics doesn’t just stop there.
The Pop Warner program also honors the nation’s top scholar-athletes through our yearly Academic All-American Program. Young men and women are recognized for their success in the classroom, as well as their community service efforts. It’s this program that truly separates Pop Warner from other youth sports organizations.
Each year, approximately 8,000 Pop Warner Scholar All-Americans are selected, representing programs from Pop Warner’s eight regions across the country. Every scholar is invited to attend the annual All-American Scholar Weekend, a celebration of the accomplishments of our scholar-athletes. It’s a fun two-day event where scholarships are awarded, and we recognize those that have served as exemplary ambassadors for Pop Warner.
It’s one of the most memorable and most rewarding events of the year for many involved in the program. And for most people that attend, it leaves a lasting impact.
One example is the Green family from Incline Village, Nevada (North Lake Tahoe Rams). Robert B. Green, Jr. CFA, attended last year’s event at Disney World in May with his son, Shane (13), a sixth-grade All-American Scholar from the Sagebrush Empire League.
This was Shane’s first year being selected as an All-American Scholar, and making the trip to Orlando made a lasting impact on the family.
“Being at the event last year in Orlando, I was moved by the importance Pop Warner associated with academics,” stated Robert.
“Academics is the core of being a student-athlete, and I believe that the physical aspect of the game enables a student to relieve the stress associated with academics.”
The event left such a positive impression with the Green family that they decided to make an extremely generous donation to the Pop Warner Scholar Program. On behalf of his company, Cojo Bay Advisors, LLC, Robert donated $4,000 to be used for a scholarship at the annual event. Robert is the President of Cojo Bay Advisors, LLC.
The presentation of Scholarships is a highlight of the Pop Warner Scholastic Banquet, with approximately $90,000 awarded each year to the nation’s top scholar-athletes in grades eight and higher. Thanks to Pop Warner's generous sponsors and supporters, over $1.46 million in scholarships have been awarded to our deserving scholar-athletes since 1993.
In addition to the national recognition, Pop Warner scholars are also recognized at the Regional, League and local levels. At last year’s Pacific Northwest Region Scholar Banquet, the importance of the scholar program was something Green noticed right away.
“Shane and three of his friends (and teammates) received their academic awards together at the regional dinner,” said Robert. “One of the best experiences of playing Pop Warner is simply the friends that he’s gained on the team, and sharing those moments together.”
Robert is very active with his local program, currently announcing all home games (both divisions) for North Lake Tahoe Pop Warner, and he’s able to carry on the tradition from when he was a youngster.
“(My favorite Pop Warner memory is) having my father announce my games as a kid, added Robert. “I played Pop Warner football beginning at eight years old, and I remember my father in the booth announcing my games. Today, I’m fortunate to be able to announce my sons’ games.”
The values and lessons learned while participating in Pop Warner extend well beyond the playing field, it’s a building block for future success.
The term “scholar-athlete” has been a core value of the Pop Warner Little Scholars program since the inception of the league in 1929. It’s something that parents realize every time they drop their son or daughter off at practice, or cheer on from the stands.
And for some like the Green family from North Lake Tahoe, its cause to generously give back and recognize the value of education in youth sports.
“Playing football and Pop Warner specifically supplies the discipline and a team aspect not found in other sports,” said Robert. “Physically pushing kids to be there best is an experience that they will be able to fall back on later in life. Pop Warner helps supply the discipline to help them succeed academically.”