With all the home foreclosures and unemployment numbers keeping Cape Coral in the economic doldrums, both Pop Warner Football associations want the city to know that they are not done.
Far from it.
As the Cape Junior Football Association and Cape Youth Football Association prepare for the 2010 season, they are running at full capacity. There are players either on waiting lists or playing in other cities.
Cape Junior Sharks player Joe La Mura, 13, participates in an
agility drill during
a preseason practice
for the upcoming Pop Warner Peace River Conference season
that starts Saturday.
"I think it's something to take everybody's mind off of some of the other issues that may be happening," Cape Junior president Jeremy Taylor said. "As adults, our problems shouldn't be our kids' problems. Kids know what's going on - they're not stupid - but it's good if they can get their minds off of something."
Taylor added that his association has drawn loyalty as well. The Gamefish have an 85 percent return rate. They also have more than 200 cheerleaders.
"We should be pretty successful this year," Taylor said. "We should have a good season. If we're getting kids coming back at that rate then we should be doing something right."
Even now, with the real estate market where what residents hope is the bottom, the organizations are even looking forward to the rebound. And they anticipate that the demand for youth football will be bigger and better than ever.
"I see in the very near future a need for another program in the Cape," Cape Youth president Frank Connelley said.
The Storms have established a strong presence through their recruiting efforts with flyers, Facebook and word of mouth, Connelley said. All nine teams are full, and the association serves 450 cheerleaders and players.
"This is probably the heaviest we've had," Connelley said.
There are no key rules changes in game play for this year, but Pop Warner has addressed some safety concerns. The national organization has adopted the national high school rules for concussions, which requires officials to remove any player showing concussion-like symptoms. Those players must be seen immediately by a trained medical professional or athletic trainer.
The regular-season schedule of games begins today on the home turf for both Cape associations as well as the North Fort Myers Junior Football Association Knights.
Cape Coral Junior
Football Assoc. (Blue)
(Home games at Caloosa Field)
Aug. 28 - vs. Sarasota Sundevils
Sept. 4 - at Port Charlotte Bandits
Sept. 11 - at Charlotte Warriors
Sept. 18 - vs. Immokalee Seminoles
Sept. 25 - vs. North Port Mustangs
Oct. 2 - at Naples Gators
Oct. 9 - vs. Cypress Lake Hornets
Oct. 16 - at Riverdale Wildcats
Cape Coral Youth
Football Assoc. (Storms)
(Home games at Storms Complex)
Aug. 28 - vs. Venice Vikings
Sept. 4 - at Englewood Cats
Sept. 11 - vs. Lake Placid Dragons
Sept. 18 - at North Fort Myers Knights
Sept. 25 - at Suncoast Buccaneers
Oct. 2 - vs. Estero Mustangs
Oct. 9 -at LaBelle Longhorns
Oct. 16 - vs. Clewiston Cougars
North Fort Myers Jr.
Football Assoc. (Knights)
(Home games at North Ft. Myers Community Park)
Aug. 28 - vs. Suncoast Buccaneers
Sept. 4 - at Venice Vikings
Sept. 11 - vs. Englewood Cats
Sept. 18 - at North Fort Myers Knights
Sept. 25 - at Lake Placid Dragons
Oct. 2 - at Lehigh Acres Raiders
Oct. 9 - vs. Clewiston Cougars
Oct. 16 - at Estero Mustangs
Oct. 23 - Peace River Conference Playoffs
Oct. 30 - PRC Championships
Nov. 26 - SE Region Cheer & Dance Championships; SE Region Division 2 Championships
Nov. 27 - SE Region Division 1 Championships
Nov. 28 - SE Region Cheer & Dance Championships
Dec. 4 - Pop Warner Super Bowl, Division 2 first round
Dec. 5 - Pop Warner Super Bowl Division 1 first round
Dec. 6-31 - National Cheer & Dance Championships
Dec. 7 - Pop Warner Super Bowl Division 2 second round
Dec. 8 - Pop Warner Super Bowl Division 1 second round
Dec. 10-11 - Pop Warner Super Bowl Championships