ABPW Cheer FAQs
What is Pop Warner?
Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS), a non-profit organization composed of over 400,000 youngsters ages 5 to 16 worldwide, is the largest youth football, cheer and dance program in the United States. Founded in 1929, Pop Warner is the only national youth sports organization that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to participate. "At every level, Pop Warner programs seek to develop well-rounded young men and women who learn not only the fundamentals of football, cheerleading, and dance but also the importance of education in an atmosphere conducive to developing sound character while having a good time." (www.popwarner.com/aboutus)
Who is in charge of the ABPW cheerleading program?
At practices, Cheer Director Linda Vittum circulates among all the teams, making sure things are going safely and smoothly. She is the AB cheerleading liaison in the Merrimack Valley League, serves on the ABPW Board of Directors and issues program-wide emails to parents/guardians.
The coaches (AB high school cheerleaders) run the practices for each individual team, and one parent (Team Mom/Dad) must be present for each team during practices and games.
Who are the coaches?
High school cheerleaders who were likely Pop Warner cheerleaders themselves coach the squads. Its not uncommon for the older and younger girls to form friendships, and both ages enjoy it when the younger girls come to the ABRHS Friday night games to see their coaches cheer!
What does the Team Mom/Dad do?
She/he serves as the liaison between squad parents, coaches, and the Cheer Director; e-mails directions, updates, and notices to parents; makes sure the girls are behaving themselves on the field; and coordinates parent volunteer schedules.
What, as a parent, will I have to do?
The single most important thing you need to do is to GET YOUR CHEERLEADER TO PRACTICES ON TIME AND TO GAMES EARLY SO THAT SHE CAN WARM UP PROPERLY AND AVOID INJURIES.
Beyond that, each squad has jobs that need to be done, and the size of the squad dictates how many jobs each family needs to volunteer for. These jobs may include:
- working as Team Mom/Dad,
- sitting in at practices and games,
- bringing Munchkins to games,
- working in the Snack Shack,
- baking cupcakes for the final practice,
- collecting money for the coaches gifts,
- making paper megaphones for each cheerleader for Awards Night
When and where are the practices?
Practices typically start the first week of August and run 5:30-7:00 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, on the field in front of the R.J. Grey Junior High School. There are NO bathrooms available during practice. Please ensure that your child uses a bathroom BEFORE practice.
Once school is in session, practices will move to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30pm-7:00 pm.
At the end of September, practices will move into the high school gym. Details will follow. Parents and siblings are discouraged from staying at practice as it is very distracting to the cheerleaders. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities if you would like to stay during your daughters practice. Children will only be released to parents/guardians, unless other arrangements have been made with your childs coach.
Where do I park?
If youre simply dropping off or picking up your daughter, you can just pull up next to the field. IF YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF YOUR CAR FOR EVEN A FEW MINUTES, PLEASE PARK IN THE LOT TO THE LEFT OF THE JUNIOR HIGH. The Acton Police actively patrol the grounds during our practices and dont take kindly to cars parked in the circle in front of the school or next to the field.
What does my child need to wear/bring to each practice?
- Shorts (no denim, buttons or zippers)
- Ponytail/Hair off face
- Water bottle
- Absolutely no jewelry! This means no earrings, necklaces, body piercing, rings, etc. Any nail polish (including clear) is prohibited.
- Bug repellent (for outdoor practices)
- Cheerleaders may wear pull-over sweatshirts and sweatpants (not the slippery nylon type) in colder weather.
Must my child attend every practice and game?
Commitment is one of the most important things the league promotes. Commitment to the squad means participating at every practice and every game. A participant missing from practices or games affects the entire squad and is unfair to everyone. Squads cannot have an effective practice or game with absent participants. While we understand that some families must schedule vacations during the month of August, the organization's priority is to have the well being of the entire squad as its main focus. If a childs attendance becomes problematic, continued participation will be discussed with the parent. Decisions on participation will be undertaken by the squads Team Mom/Dad and the Cheer Director, and if needed, the ABPW President.
All squads are required by Pop Warner to cheer at all games regardless of weather, to include postseason play. Bottom Line: If the football team plays, we cheer. If the weather is questionable (i.e., it snows), unless you hear otherwise from your coach, you are expected to go and be prepared to cheer, so check your e-mail before you leave for a game for any last-minute announcements.
Do cheerleaders throw each other way up in the air? That seems awfully dangerous!
It is. Thus, the older girls do, but the younger girls do not. The youngest girls start with simple, low lifts, while their coaches lead them through the proper form and techniques required of the bases (girls at the bottom of the formation), flyers (girls at the top), and spotters. As the girls get older and stronger and progress through the program, they move on to more difficult stunts as the Cheer Director deems appropriate.
PWLS has made safety such a high priority that Pop Warner football is safer than soccer with 12% fewer injuries per capita among 5-15 year olds than organized soccer (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, NEISS). And they dont stop at football; cheering safety is its top priority, too.
What does the uniform look like and where do I get it?
There are quite a few elements to the blue, gold, and white uniforms. Heres what you will be required to purchase:
- briefs (to cover their underpants),
- turtleneck half-top
- hair bows
In late August, we issue the skirts, shells and sweaters. PLEASE AVOID GETTING THEM DIRTY, IF POSSIBLE. IFYOU NEED TO WASH ANY PIECE OF THE UNIFORM, DO NOT DRY THEM!
The skirts, shells and sweaters MUST be returned in good condition at the end of the season. IF ANY ITEM IS NOT RETURNED IN GOOD CONDITION, YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THE REPLACEMENT.
Once practices begin in August, your Team Mom/Dad will take orders for warm-up jackets and warm-up pants. You are NOT required to buy these, but your child will need something to wear when the weather gets colder (and you can order them a size too big and get a couple of years use out of them). The hooded jackets have "Acton-Boxboro Cheerleader" embroidered on the front and back, and you can have your daughters name embroidered on the sleeve if youd like.
As for pants, you can either order breakaway warm-up pants (lined, wind- and water-resistant, and easy to take off) or buy royal blue sweatpants. Whatever you buy, make sure your daughters name is on EVERYTHING! Youll be amazed at how many items are left behind at every single game.
What does my child need to wear/bring to each game?
Again, no jewelry or nail polish is allowed. Bring all uniform parts, including coats, gloves etc- you know how New Englands weather changes! And throw in an extra t-shirt to protect your daughters uniform in case she eats something while shes still wearing it. It is always a good idea to bring water.
How many games are there?
There are eight Sunday games each season, starting right after school starts and ending in late October/early November. If the football team makes it to post-season playoffs, the cheerleading squad assigned to that team will continue to cheer until the post-season is complete.
Where are the games?
Four are home games, played on Leary Field between the High School and Junior High. The other four are away (Locations to be determined). You can find driving and parking directions for all away games on the ABPW website (www.abpw.org).
Where do I park for home games?
Park to the left of the Junior High, just like you would for practices, then walk away from the practice field, toward Leary Field. If that lot is full, keep hunting around the Junior High, then head over to the High School. DO NOT PARK IN RESTRICTED SPACES (handicapped, tow zone, etc.)! The police patrol these parking lots every home game and issue tickets to any cars parked illegally.
What is the Conduct and Sportsmanship Policy?
Fighting, intimidation, use of illegal substances (including cigarettes by minors), or disrespect for authority by any cheerleader or parent during practices, games or any other Pop Warner function will not be tolerated. Any activity of this kind could result in suspension or termination from the Pop Warner program. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN.
You must remember that your child is on a team representing Acton-Boxborough Pop Warner. Cheerleaders and parents should always conduct themselves in a proper manner and display good sportsmanship and manners to the organization, team members, and opposing teams.
What is Pop Warner Night?
More than just a night, it is ABPWs main event and a night the girls look forward to all season long! Usually held in mid-October, Pop Warner Night is the one day - and one day only - that the girls are allowed to wear their uniforms to school. The girls then bring bagged dinners to the Junior High, where they practice and have a picnic dinner before heading over to the field to cheer at the varsity game with the high-school girls. The highlight of the night is the halftime show, when all the girls, second-graders through high school seniors, perform together! Bring family, friends, neighbors...you wont want to miss this! (And dont forget your camera!)
What is Awards Night?
Typically in November, all ABPW cheer coaches, cheerleaders, and their families gather for an awards presentation.