On May 27 in Philadelphia, the San Francisco 49ers were recognized at the 57th Annual All-American Scholastic Banquet for being named Pop Warner Little Scholars Team of the Year for Outstanding Commitment to Community. Pop Warner is the nation’s oldest youth football, cheer and dance organization.
In a press release, 49ers President Al Guido stated, “for a storied football organization like Pop Warner to recognize our organization in this way is an incredible honor and one that I know is appreciated by everyone who works for the 49ers. This award is a credit to the dedication of our youth football department, led by Jared Muela, to teach sound technical football skills and our organizational commitment to use grassroots football to support inclusive development of children throughout the Bay Area and beyond.”
Santa Clara Lions Pop Warner Head Coach Craig Connelly was instrumental in pushing the National Pop Warner office to consider the 49ers for this community award. Connelly has been a part of the Santa Clara community for over 50 years.
“The 49ers accomplish a lot of things in our own Santa Clara community and [yet] they [only] hit the paper when they are fighting with the council,” remarked the long-time coach. “The York/DeBartolo family throw a lot of money around. We all know pro football is a profit-making organization, but this organization spreads some of that wealth. I think the 49ers’ attitude, where they are … spending their time in the youth communities, they are amazing. Not only do they invite my program, but additional programs get invited to go to halftimes, and the 49ers offer free clinics like nobody’s business. They are hosting 350 coaches for a Pop Warner clinic in July and they pay for everything. They pay for breakfast, the lunches, the personnel, let alone the facilities. My best estimate last year is that you couldn’t have booked that for 40 grand.”
Connelly went on for a good 20-30 minutes about how the 49ers support local youth programs.
This season, the 49ers sponsored certified athletic trainers for the Lions games each week.
“You are talking about $250 dollars a day to have a medic on your sidelines–a certified medic. The 49ers picked it all up,” said Connelly. “They got a hold of a training company out of Los Gatos and sponsored it.”
The 49ers commitment to the community includes hosting the unique 43-year-old local prep football tradition known as the Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game, the annual Friday Night Lights High School Football double-header and free youth football camps. Their Youth Football Program is constantly growing, according to their press release.
“Most stuff that gets in the newspaper is negative because nobody wants to hear anything that’s good,” argued Connelly. “But this is a good thing. What the 49ers have accomplished in our community is amazing.”