Despite last Saturday's early morning fog, 40 boys were gathered at the football field clad in t-shirts and shorts.
The boys were there for the first annual Pop Warner Punt, Pass, Kick competition, an event targeted towards youth age five to 14 years old.
Nine-year-old running back Ronan Spigelman was pumped with excitement.
“I love catching and running,” he said.
“So do I,” said his buddy Tristan Hofmann, who plays quarterback. “This competition is going to be fun,” he said.
Along with a group of parent volunteers, Tammy Von Almen and Emma Hofmann greeted participants as they made their way down the bleachers to the field. There, parents and coaches congregated near a table set-up with sparkling trophies.
It’s a “friendly competition with prizes,” said coach Len Tomberlin.
Tomberlin came up with the idea for the event to not only spark an interest in local Pop Warner football and recruit for the fall, but to also give parents a chance to see what the sport is all about at the pee wee level.
“Because some parents associate football with injuries and concussions, they are fearful about signing up their kids to participate on a team,” said Tomberlin. “This event is to show them the non-contact aspect of the game with punting, kicking and passing. We’re here just to play and enjoy the game.”
The free event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. divided the group into four divisions by age. Each participant was allowed two attempts to punt, pass or kick the ball through a series of drill-like exercises.
Coach Tomberlin was optimistic that events like this will help parents understand that Pop Warner football is more instructional than combative and is really about learning sportsmanship, community and the basics of the game.
“We are such a small tight-knit community here in Half Moon Bay that to get the numbers up for registration, we need to get the word out about what we’re all about,” said Tomberlin, who noted that 85 to 90 percent of the coaches and parent volunteers are Half Moon Bay High School alumni. “To get the kids out here and to get the numbers up, it’s a challenge,” he said.
“We have a target on our back since the Jr. Pee Wees and are the 2010 First Annual Pop Warner ‘Best of The West’ Bowl winners,” said Breen Hofmann, president of Half Moon Bay Pop Warner.
“This put Half Moon Bay Pop Warner back on the map and now we’ve been bumped up to Division Two. So we need to recruit players, and events like this will help us do that,” he said.
“For the younger kids, we don’t keep score and the experience overall teaches the kids about community and responsibility, playing other teams out the area,” said Tiny Mites coach Jim McCauley, who coaches kids showing up in car seats to play the game. “By the fourth or fifth game, parents see such a change in their child for the better both on the field and in the classroom.”
Still, it wasn't just the parents who needed to see what the game was all about.
student Patrick Ginna was just one example of a boy who tested the waters on Saturday.
“He was a bit apprehensive about this event when I told him about it, but we came, and now I’m glad we did because look at him. He’s jumped right in and is out there already playing and having a good time,” said dad Brian Ginna, pointing over to his son on the field crouched down ready to run and receive the pass.
Four trophy awards within each division were given out to those who achieved the longest pass, punt and kick. The one who had the most total footage was awarded the biggest trophy of all.
Punt, Pass, Kick Competition participants/trophy winners:
Chase Hofmann, age 11
Jake Quosig, age 11
Hayden Von Almen, age 11
Gavin Tomberlin, age 11
Robert Lopez, age 11
Tristan Hofmann, age 8
Quinn McCauley, age 7
Sammy Lowings, age 7
Seth Tanisaki, age 10
Aaron Baird, age 10
Joey Greco, age 10
Frank Lemos, age 13
Anthony Demartini, age 12
Ronan Spigelman, age 9
Payton Pastorino, age 9
Cody James, age 12
To register for the 12-week fall session, which is divided by age and weight, call 650-726-0908 or go to www.coastsidefootball.org.