Team raising funds for Pop Warner Super Bowl trip

Evergreen Bulldogs squad needs as much as $40,000 for Florida visit

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Winning a berth in the Pop Warner Super Bowl was a special accomplishment for the Evergreen Bulldogs.

Paying for the trip to Florida, though, is an even bigger challenge.

It will cost between $30,000 and $40,000 for the team of 26 players and four coaches to participate in the national championship tournament, which takes place Dec. 2-9 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.

As of Monday afternoon the team had raised about $8,000, according to Jill Earnhardt, the Bulldogs' team mom. She noted that Evergreen Pop Warner is a non-profit organization, so donations are tax deductible.

To help or learn more about Evergreen Pop Warner and its trip to Florida, visit

evergreenpopwarner.weebly.com, or contact Jill Earnhart, 206-271-6495, or at

epwpeeweeteam@yahoo.com.

The Bulldogs qualified for the Division II Pee Wee Division Super Bowl tournament by winning a Northwest regional playoff game at Santa Clara, Calif., on Nov. 17. This is the first time a team from Washington has qualified for the national Pop Warner championship tournament.

The Pop Warner Pee Wee Division is for players ages 9-11 who weigh 75-120 pounds, and 12-year-olds who weigh 75-100 pounds.

The Bulldogs players attend Shahala, Pacific, Covington and Wy'East middle schools, and St. Joseph's Catholic School.

The Bulldogs will take an 11-0 record to the Pop Warner Super Bowl where they will be one of eight teams competing to become national champions.

They are guaranteed to play at least two games. They will find out who their first-round opponent is during a Pop Warner Super Bowl Pairing Show, which can be seen online at ESPN3.com.

With less than two weeks to arrange for travel and lodging for the trip to Florida, team members have been going door-to-door in their neighborhoods, and Earnhardt and other parents have been trying to get the word out to area businesses.

Head coach Brandon Victor said the team is working hard to get out the word, and will make the trip to Florida even if it must continue fund-raising efforts after the trip.

"We can't stop now," he said.

The biggest surprise in planning for the trip is the cost of lodging, Earnhardt said. The team is required to stay at one of the three Disney-owned hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort. She said she confirmed just Sunday that the cost to rent nine rooms (three players and one adult per room) for the week will come to around $19,000.

Josh Pruce, the national director of media relations for Pop Warner, said there are several reasons Pop Warner Super Bowl teams must stay at Disney hotels. One reason is so that all transportation for Super Bowl events is covered. Another is that Pop Warner representatives at the hotels are available to assist teams.

Pruce said the Bulldogs' estimate of needing at least $30,000 for the trip is in line with what some Pop Warner teams have needed to raise in past years.

Evergreen Pop Warner applied for a grant from the Pop Warner headquarters to help cover the cost of the trip. Earnhardt said the team expects to learn on Wednesday how much money — if any — it will receive.

Pruce said that some Pop Warner organizations raise funds year-round to pay for trips to the championships. Others, he said, qualify as late as Thanksgiving weekend and must scramble for funding.

Victor, the head coach, said Evergreen Pop Warner raised more than $6,000 during this season to pay for his team's trip to Santa Clara, where the Bulldogs defeated the South Marin Broncos on Nov. 17 to qualify for the trip to Florida.

Players for the Bulldogs are: Trey Galloway, Kahai Umiamaka, John Earnhardt, Lincoln Victor, Michael Bolds, Riley Buehler, Carter Sutton, Tiernan Stanley, Philip Earnhardt, True Lover, Joseph Dearey, Benjamin (BJ) Bisquera, Jordan Cook, Pierce Henriksbo, Travis Flick, Joseph (JoJo) Siofele, Alex Vallejo, Makai Anderson, Matthew Gama, Luke Staton, Andrew Gulliford, Kobe Anderson, Darien Chase, Miguel Cruz, Kanen Eaton, and Alexander Gonzales.