SMC plays the field in Pop Warner regional semifinals
By Joseph Juarez, Sr., Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published November 30, 2015
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Having to project his hoarse voice in the chilly night air while competing with the noise on the open field, the Air Force officer emphasized the importance of each individuals' mission. As he went over the battle lines on the grid, he explained to his troops the strategic and tactical goals that must be met to have a winning victory in their next meeting with their adversary.
Overhearing the meticulous planning, one would think this was a battle preparation for an upcoming engagement between two opposing military forces. In a way it was, at least in preparation for what was about to come; the Pop Warner 2015 WESCON Regional Semifinals, Midget-Division II.
Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Coate and his coaching staff of Capt. Francisco Lugo, Capt. Matthew Coates, 1st Lt. Scott Graves and James "JW" Franklin from the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., begin another evening of intense coaching of the Redondo Sea Hawks. The Sea Hawks are a Pop Warner football team ranging in ages from 12 to 15 years old from Redondo Beach, and other South Bay area suburbs of Los Angeles County.
According to their website, Pop Warner football has been around since the inception of the league in 1929 by founder Joseph J. Tomlin as a four-team conference in Northeast Philadelphia. Since then, participation has steadily increased to today's record numbers. Over 240,000 youths participated in Pop Warner-sanctioned football programs in 2004, and those numbers are continuing to grow.
Over the last four years, Coate managed to recruit over twenty active-duty, civilian, and contractor personnel from the base to coach over 100 kids. The volunteers from Los Angeles AFB contribute 20 or more hours a week, usually for three months culminating in about 1,700 man-hours a season.
"That's not including the additional hour associated with taking players to feed the homeless at the Midnight Mission in L.A.'s Skid Row, coaching the flag football team in the spring, providing tutoring to the students and offering rides to and from practice when needed," said Igor Brin from SMC's Program Management Assistance Group, and team manager for the Sea Hawks.
And if that wasn't enough, they also fundraise for scholarships to provide football as an opportunity to at-risk kids.
"It all goes towards the ultimate reason of why we volunteer to coach, which is to develop good moral character, respect and citizenship in young men during this pivotal period of their life, through the game of football," explained Coate.
Winning the 2015 WESCON regional Semifinals will take the Sea Hawks to the playoffs. If they win there, the Sea Hawks will be invited to Disney's Wide World of Sports™ in Florida to compete for a national championship in their division at the Super Bowl of Pop Warner football.