Ferndale Eagles Make it to Florida, and to National Championship Game
Ferndale, MI – After tackling a major hurdle in fundraising, the Ferndale Eagles Pop Warner teams of elementary school aged football players and cheerleaders is down in Orlando Florida competing in the 61st annual Pop Warner Super Bowl at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. And they keep on winning!
Coach James Lewis reported that in their first game, the Eagles Unlimited Division Team “won round one after an epic comeback being down 19-0 at half time.” Their second game, Tuesday evening, was a 28-12 victory. And now they move on to the Championship Game Friday which is against the Ocoee Bulldogs from Florida on Friday.
When Coach Lewis and his wife Leri started the Ferndale Eagles Youth Athletic Association earlier this year, they had no idea how successful it would be. Their football teams and cheerleading squads serve kids aged 5-14 in preparation for middle school and high school athletics. Like other feeder programs, they are independent of the school district, but there is synchronicity because they provide a program that is not currently available by Ferndale Schools.
160 kids signed up, about half of which made it to the national championships. But since this was the program’s first year, the couple had no idea they would be good enough to go that far. Nor did they have the budget for it.
With less than a week to raise $20,000 they reached out to the community. And neighbors responded.
A mix of large and small donations from members of the community gave them the money needed to charter two busses and pay for accommodations for the week.
Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins, who also is the President of the Eagle’s Nest booster group for middle school and high school football teams, was one of the team’s biggest cheerleaders. “I’d really like to see this program stick around and be successful,” Chief Collins said. He said that support from the community made the difference in the program continuing on. If they had not been able to come up with the money, it would have meant more than just disappointment for the kids. It would have meant not being allowed in the Pop Warner program next year.
“The outpouring of support was amazing,” he said. Collins thanked everyone who chipped in, including Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter, Councilperson Dan Martin, City Manager April Lynch, and avid community supporters Dave and Sharon Chess and Jack and Annette Aronson.
“Now they know what their abilities are, they can’t rely on last minute generosity,” Chief Collins said of the team. “They’ll be doing a lot more planning and fundraising early on, because they are going to keep playing their best. This was an amazing outpouring due to their phenomenal success.”
The Final Game in the Pop Warner Super Bowl Unlimited Division takes place Friday at 3:15 pm and can be watched live on ESPN 3. If they win they’ll be the national champs!
Learn more about Ferndale Eagles at http://www.ferndaleeagles.org/.