Sanford Sting getting new look for new season
The Sanford Sting has a big day coming up this Saturday, and that's with football and cheerleading season still five months away.
The Sting will be having its first sign-ups for the upcoming football and cheer season, along with unveiling new helmets, equipment and jerseys, Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club at O.T. Sloan Park in Sanford.
The new gear is thanks to a major fundraising campaign by Lee County Pop Warner and sponsorships from more than 35 businesses in and near Sanford, always with room for more, said the organization's president, Phillip Chappell.
The helmets and pads will be on display at sign-ups at the Boys and Girls Club. The jerseys aren't in yet but Sting rookies and vets alike will be able to see what they'll look like on Saturday.
"Big thanks to Don from Russell and Shelia from Johnson Lambe for their assistance with the designing of our new jerseys," reads a post on the Sting's Facebook page.
"If you are wondering what they will look like, just imagine a mixture of Georgia Tech, Oregon and a twist of Michigan. Gonna have some swag in 2013."
First and foremost though, Chappell said, new, safer equipment was the top priority for Lee County Pop Warner this offseason.
"We saw a need to evaluate our equipment at the end of last year," he said.
The helmets are the best quality available for decreasing the likelihood of concussions. Even with the latest technology, player safety is a multi-faceted approach said Chappell, who played college football at Duke and has been with the Sting for four years.
Sting coaches have been working together, with guidance from Pop Warner and USA Football, on teaching proper tackling technique.
The fundraising campaign raised money for purchasing new gear and jerseys, but is also enough of a fund to set aside for refurbishing equipment and adding more as the Sting grows. The Sting had about 120 players last fall and are looking at adding a Mitey Mite team, going to 130-150 players, this season.
After having to drop cheerleading last season due to low numbers, the organization's working on drumming up interest to bring the sport back.
"We've seen a tremendous increase in interest from the community which is really exciting," Chappell said.
Fundraising and sponsors let Lee County Pop Warner keep its registration fees down as much as possible.
"It's always a focus point for us, to keep the price down for families, so we can be here for as many kids as possible," he said.
Cheering and flag football start at age 5. Contact football, with Pop Warner leagues in Tiny Mite, Mitey Mite, Junior Pee Wee and Pee Wee, starts at 6-7.
Sign-up fees on Saturday or on May 11 will have a $20 early registration discount. There's a $10 discount for military families and a $10 discount for children in the same family.
Practices start on Aug. 1. Seasons are usually eight regular-season games, with home games on Saturdays at Lee County High School.
Parents should bring a birth certificate to registration. Players, new or returning Sting players, should come out to registration as well. First, they should check out the new Sting "swag." Second, players will be fitted for pads, helmets and jerseys.
WANT TO PLAY?
Lee County Pop Warner/Sanford Sting sign-ups
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Where: Boys and Girls Club, 1414 Bragg St., Sanford
What: Youth football and cheerleading teams for ages 5-15
More: Saturday is the first of two early registration dates for the Sting. There are early registration, military and multiple-sibling discounts. Practices start in early August and games are Saturdays with home games at Lee County High School.