Football season has begun in Temecula Valley. On Friday, August 1 under moonlit skies, hundreds of kids underwent their first day of practice at Birdsall Park.
The sounds of coach’s whistles, the slap of the football being caught and grunts from young athletes pushing through their first day of training were heard from around the field.
This year Temecula’s Pop Warner Football League celebrates 25 years of incorporation.
The league is organized to be kid focused and family friendly. During the first day of practice, families were scattered around the field on chairs and blankets watching young players develop their football skills.
Safety is an upmost concern to the league and throughout the summer, the league prepared coaches on strict safety standards.
“We added on our board new this year a player safety coach,” Temecula Pop Warner President Tim Arnzen said.
The player safety coach takes more training than the average coach so they can monitor the league’s coaches throughout the season.
Earlier this year Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law AB 2127, which prohibits football teams at middle and high schools from holding full-contact practices that exceed 90 minutes a day, limits the number of full-contact practices during the season to two per week and prohibits contact practices during the off-season.
The restrictions take effect Jan. 1, 2015 and are designed to help reduce concussions and serious brain injuries.
Arnzen said the Temecula Valley Pop Warner league already follows rules and regulations that reflect the AB 2127 football safety law.
“Player safety is our number one concern,” Arnzen said.
In celebration of the 25 years in the Valley, all players were issued a special practice t-shirt commemorating the milestone which the players wore for the first week for practice.
The number of players this year who enrolled has dropped and Arnzen said he contributes the decreased amount of players to a number of factors.
“There are ten other football leagues between Murrieta and Temecula, some is due to cost, safety concerns and we are also competing with the growing sports of year-round baseball, soccer and lacrosse,” Arnzen said.
Despite a slight decrease in numbers of registered players, the coaching staff at the Temecula Valley Pop Warner Football League has longevity.
Coach Troy Juve has been coaching 22 years and last year his team won the Best of the West in the Western Conference.
Arnzen said he also has three teams in the league where the coaches or assistant coaches were at one time players.
On August 23, a carnival will be held at Temecula Middle School to help fundraise for the league. More information on the league can be found at http://www.tvpw.org/.