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Cheer, football squads ready for nationals

By Kara Hallissey | Nov 30, 2017
Courtesy of: Tony Morris After winning three Eastern Regional games – outscoring opponents 91-0 – the Berlin Pop Warner junior varsity football team will compete in two bowl games on Dec. 4 and Dec. 7 at nationals in Disney World.

(Dec. 1, 2017) The Berlin Pop Warner junior varsity cheerleaders and football players will compete at nationals in Disney World next week.

The cheerleaders will head to Disney World for the third year in a row after coming in first place during the Eastern Regional competition in New Jersey on Nov. 4, while the football players won three shut out regional games to advance and play at the national level for their first time.

“Our goal was to cheer on the junior varsity football players while we are there,” Head Cheerleading Coach Jessie Parsons said. “It’s a requirement to stay on Disney property and some of us are driving overnight. Everyone is on their own to arrange transportation.”

There are 12 junior varsity cheerleaders on the squad this year ranging in age from 10-13 years old, with a majority of the girls having cheered together in the past.

The squad started training for the competition in August, getting together four nights each week. Once school started, practices were cut to three per week. In addition, the cheerleaders perform every Saturday during Pop Warner football games.

“One of the challenges this year is we have a much smaller squad, which makes it harder to come up with stunts and make adjustments,” Parsons said. “We have been moving people around and the girls have a lot of duties as fliers, bases and backdrops. You have to be more versatile with a smaller squad and the girls have had to learn new positions.”

The cheerleaders will use their winning routine consisting of cheer, dance, tumbling, pyramids, tosses and stunts for the national competition at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports in Florida on Dec. 4.

All adult volunteers go through certification programs and participants rely on donations to attend national championships. It costs $1,000 per person to travel to nationals. The squad has six coaches this year.

The junior varsity football team won 30-0 over the Edison Jets of New Jersey in Marsh Creek, Pennsylvania on Nov. 18, and the victory solidified the squad’s spot in the national competition. The team will compete in two bowl games on Dec. 4 and Dec. 7 in Disney World.

“It is going to come out to about $41,000 for the kids and chaperones to take this trip, between the rooms, meal plans and transportation costs,” Head Coach Jule Airey said. “Most of the [kids] had not been … on a airplane. Taking the buses to our games in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania was the first time a lot of them had left the area.”

The 22 junior varsity football players range in age from 10-13 years old. A handful of them have played together in the past, but there are some new to the team this year. Every team member is required to participate in at least 10 plays a game.

“We are a very physical and hard-hitting team,” Airey said. “Some teams came out pretty tough. It was 8-0 at the end of the third quarter in our first game, but we hit really hard and we would kind of break them at the end. They get tired of getting hit. It’s our conditioning and preparation.”

The Division III football squad began its season in August with games played on Saturdays. Seven match-ups took place on the Eastern Shore and in New York, Virginia and New Jersey.

“A couple of our players had to lose 10 pounds to be certified for weight in our division,” Airey said. “These kids sacrifice a lot to play football and have to watch what they eat. Our team would be different without them.”

The team’s final three regional games were played in a bracket playoff format. Berlin defeated the St. Cecilia Golden Saints from Jersey Valley, 36-0, in Smyrna, Delaware on Nov. 4.

Next, the team faced the Berkeley Golden Eagles of Bayville, New Jersey, in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on Nov. 11 and won 25-0. Berlin shut out Edison in the championship game in Marsh Creek, Pennsylvania.

“We’ve had to come up with a lot of funding for bus rides all year and have played above our division,” Airey said. “We outscored our opponents 198-0 and that includes within our conference and division.”

All adult volunteers go through certification programs and participants rely on donations to attend national championships. The football team has three coaches this year.

“They are a good bunch of kids and it’s been a pleasure coaching them,” Airey said. “Playing in Disney World will be a really cool experience for the kids and I can’t wait to see their faces. They worked so hard to win these football games.”

Debbie Donahue is in charge of the cheerleading program and Tony Morris is president of the association in Berlin. They have both spent countless hours dedicated to the program, Parsons said.

“The program needs funds for everything we do. It is all volunteer run,” Parsons said.

Berlin Pop Warner is accepting monetary donations for its football and cheer programs. Donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to: Worcester County Youth Football P.O. Box 1517 Berlin, Maryland 21811.

In addition, a PayPal page has been set up to help defray costs of the trip and money can be donated at www.paypal.me/BerlinSeahawks.

Also, raffle tickets are being sold to win a $500 Visa gift card for $1 a chance. To purchase tickets, contact Donahue at henlopencheer@yahoo.com.

For more information on the Worcester County Youth Football and Cheerleading Berlin Seahawks, call 443-783-8628 or visit www.BerlinSeahawks.com.

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