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Pop Warner closes doors in Pahrump

Pop Warner Football is synonymous with youth football. When people talk youth football they usually mean Pop Warner, but that is changing.

Pahrump Pop Warner president Johnny O’Neal got a disturbing call last week that could put a damper on Pahrump’s affiliation with Pop Warner in the future.

“Last Tuesday Las Vegas Pop Warner told me that they were closing down the league for lack of participation,” O’Neal said. “They told me they could only field three teams. I tried to talk them into doing the minimum, but they weren’t willing to do that. We had to hold an emergency meeting on Tueday to discuss our option.”

Touch and go

This put a lot of stress on the Pahrump Pop Warner organization. They had to find a new home or they faced extinction too.

“We only have one team in each division and so we need to play Las Vegas teams,” he said.

This news had O’Neal scrambling to join another league in Las Vegas with only one week before the league was set to open its doors.

“On a scale of one to 10, my stress level was about an eight,” O’Neal said. “We could refund the parents’ money, but we had already spent the league sponsor money and so that made things hard.”

For the past four years, Pop Warner numbers have not been good, according to nationwide participation surveys. The reason given for the decline in numbers has been the concussion scare.

But O’Neal wasn’t sure this was the case in Las Vegas.

“We found three other leagues in Las Vegas besides Pop Warner and they had a lot of the same people that were in the Las Vegas Pop Warner organization, so I don’t think it was the concussion thing.”

O’Neal thinks it may have been better organization that led to the downfall of the Las Vegas Pop Warner. He said that Pop Warner Las Vegas had an old website that had not been updated and he thinks people wanted a better organized league.

New league saves the day

The league that Pahrump Pop Warner found to join is called National Youth Sports Nevada and they have offices in Summerlin and Henderson. The registration is $50 cheaper according to O’Neal, but parents have to buy their own equipment.

“At this point, our parents will be allowed to use the Pop Warner equipment for this season, but that has to be returned for next year,” he said.

According to their website, the NYS brand has been around since 1999. NYS Nevada was founded in 1999 by National Youth Sports based in Peoria, Arizona. Since then it’s grown to one of the biggest youth sports leagues in Nevada. They offer soccer, t-ball, baseball, girls softball, flag football, basketball, cheer, girls volleyball, and tackle football. Their age groups span from three to 17.

Practice for youth football in Pahrump starts today. The league will have its first games in the second week of September as planned.

As for next year

O’Neal said that next year will depend on how this league is. He said he is open to going back to Pop Warner if they come back next year or he could stay with NYS.

“We will see how this works out,” he said. “We now have other options.”

The organization still has openings for the 8U, 10U and 12U teams.

The following is a list of teams and divisions for the upcoming season:

6U - flag, 5-6 year olds;

8U - 7-8 years old, unlimited weight;

10U - 8 years old, unlimited weight; 9 years old, under 115 lbs.; 10 years old, under 95 lbs.;

12U - 10 years old, unlimited weight; 11 years old, under 145 lbs.; 12 years old, under 120 lbs.

For more info, call Johnny O’Neal at 775-513-1957.

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