In 1993, Jason Gutzman started researching Pop Warner’s organization at the library after seeing highlights of it. He knew there was not a local program and eventually contacted the national commissioner to express his interest in chartering a local league. They were ecstatic since Green Bay was the only city with an NFL franchise and no Pop Warner league. They provided him with a lot of informational material on setting up a program. Of course, it did not take long to figure out that such a program would be expensive and also needed many volunteers. Over the next couple of years, he made it a hobby to get the program going. This included setting up a non-profit organization, going to the media for publicity and holding informational meetings to gauge public interest and support. Many strangers at the time from all over the area came forward to volunteer. Many have remained active in the program ever since.
East River Pop Warner’s first fundraiser was a brat fry helping us raise our first $750 to work with. Eventually, local businesses came forward to sponsor teams and in kind services. The Village of Allouez and Brad Lange liked what we were doing and provided green space for practices and games. They’ve been with us all along never asking for anything in return. Many of our team sponsors today were with us from the beginning too.
East River Pop Warner’s goal was to be able to provide all of the equipment to players while keeping player fees reasonable. Jason thought at the time they needed around $25,000 in total to cover first year expenses. What finally put them over the top was a very generous donation from Reggie White. Site unseen, a check for $5000 showed up in the mail one day and we were in business! The first year of play was in 1997 with about 150 local kids signed up. 2016 will be our 20th season and we’ve gotten bigger and better every year. Our player fee today is only $10 more than what it was in 1997, and almost 200 kids registered this year. Community support is as strong as ever and we constantly look for ways to improve as the premier youth sports program in the area.
In The Name of Pop Warner, we promise that we will work together as a team, Respecting and abiding by all the rules, Always striving to win, but above all playing fair. So win or lose we will do our best, in the true spirit of good sportsmanship, for the glory of football and the honor of our team.
East River Pop Warner
PO Box 307
De Pere, WI 54115