Region kids show their stuff at Pop Warner clinic

2012-02-04T22:00:00Z 2012-02-07T16:40:11Z Region kids show their stuff at Pop Warner clinicBy Al Hamnik, (219) 933-4154
February 04, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | They say today's kids are spoiled and enabled. That nothing excites them unless it has a keypad or joy stick.

They're wrong.

Saturday's Pop Warner clinic involving nearly 200 players from 24 region cities and towns was an absolute hit with kids and parents at the Sports Spot, where NFL stars Von Miller (Broncos) and Andy Dalton (Bengals) were the instructors.

"I've been waiting for this a long time," said Brian Tucker, a sixth-grader from Wheatfield.

"I liked the quarterback drill and catching passes from Andy Dalton," added Cedar Lake's Brandon Demoff, a fifth-grader and member of the town's first Pop Warner squad that had four teams and 84 players this season.

"We want to represent Hanover (Central) as a (high school) team because they haven't had football since 1972."

The clinic was one of several activities scheduled throughout Indianapolis during Super Bowl week.

"Oh, they're so excited," said Brian Lidgard, president of Northern Indiana Pop Warner. "When we came down in big excursion buses, they were getting pictures with the bus because a lot of them don't get to do this. It's the first time for them.

"To get the whole package -- to meet NFL players, interact with them -- is a once-in-a-lifetime."

Pop Warner is for boys and girls age 5-16. Saturday's two-hour clinic was for age 10-11 and featured drills, player autographs and a pizza party.

"We brought about 500 people with us for today. They all came down here for the (Super Bowl) festivities."

Northern Indiana Pop Warner Little Scholars, the league's official name, includes youngsters from as far south as Rensselaer and as far north as Lake Michigan.

That's 100 teams representing 24 communities.

Saturday's event was sponsored by Panini Sports Collectibles, which awarded a check for $2,500 to the league afterward.

"We had a city league in Dallas that I played with, so I can relate to this," said Von Miller, a rookie-of-the-year favorite. "It's extremely important. I started playing football in the fifth grade and some of the skills I developed back then I still use now.

"It's bigger than just playing football, though. You develop characteristics that you can't develop anywhere: discipline, accountability, trust, sportsmanship. I can go on and on."

Catching passes from Dalton and hitting the tackling dummies with Miller produced many priceless smiles and loud laughter from the youngsters.

"I will remember this for a very, very long time," Brandon Demoff said. 

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