NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading program had 10 members selected for the 2011 National All-American Scholar program this year. The 2011 class of Pop Warner All-American Scholars represent the top 2 percent of over 450,000 participants nationwide.
“The criteria to be named as an All-American Scholar by the Pop Warner Association is to maintain a 96 or better grade average,” Naugatuck Pop Warner Scholastic Coordinator Mary McGrath said. “They also want to see the youngsters involved in other extracurricular activities besides sports. It gives them a well-rounded base and it certainly helps with their long-term success in education.”
The Naugatuck Pop Warner program is in its third year under league president Paul McGrath and the 10 members selected is the largest number of youngsters named to the All-American Scholar program.
Representing the Naugatuck Pop Warner All-American Scholars was Christopher Yacavone, second-team award winner of the Junior Midgets under head coach Jay DeJesus.
Matthew Johnson was a second-team award winner while Ryan Pollock, Devon Biancarelli and Tyler Deitelbaum earned honorable mention on the Pee Wee team under head coach Frank Johnson.
The cheerleading program was represented by Kassie DeFala, who was a second-team award winner and Chloe Bevan and Kaylee Carasone, who earned honorable mention on the Midget team under head coach Jen Miller. Kylen Kuroski was a first-team award winner and Casey McGrath earned an honorable mention on the Pee Wee team under head coach Kim Debreceni.
The 2011 National All-American Scholars were recently honored at the New England Regional All-American Scholar Banquet held at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., hosted by the New England Patriots.
“The Patriots are really a first-class organization,” Frank Johnson said. “They gave the kids a tour of the stadium and had former players as guest speakers. They stressed the importance of education and told the kids that’s how they go into the draft looking for players. Academics come first and that is what we stress in the Pop Warner program being a student-athlete.”
Johnson said the recognition is a reward for hard work in the classroom and on the field.
“My son, Matthew, has been in the program for three years now and that was his goal since last year to be named to the All-American Scholar team,” Johnson said. “It’s not easy. You are out practicing three nights a week from 6 to 8 and you really need to stay focused on your academics to maintain that high average. The kids were really excited to be there and I’m so proud of each and every one of them for what they achieved. They are well on the road to bigger and better things.”