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Torrey Pines Pop Warner makes a comeback

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Torrey Pines Pop Warner players at a game last year.
(Courtesy)

It’s official: Torrey Pines Pop Warner football is back.

After the league dissolved this year after 30 years in Carmel Valley, a group of local families rallied for its return as they believed the youth football league is bigger than just the game but a place for players to learn values, foster life-long friendships and develop strong, smart, responsible young men.

The first day of practice will be Aug. 1 and the 10-week Palomar Pop Warner Conference season will begin on Aug. 24. Registration is now open online for 10U, 12U and 14U squads.

In order to build hype and awareness of the league’s return, an in-person sign-up session was held at Torrey Pines High School on April 28. Two hours into sign-ups, they had already formed a 12U and 14U team.

After being shocked when the league announced its dissolution, local Pop Warner families worked together to solicit support from retired NFL players, civic and business leaders and residents to ensure that there would be a 2019 season. They earned support for their efforts from Torrey Pines alum John Lynch, the former NFL pro and the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.

“When I think how good the sport of football has been to me and my family, my thoughts often turn to my formative years in the sport. For me that was playing in Torrey Pines Pop Warner,” Lynch said in a statement. “Some of the many tangible lessons that I was able to learn so well through the sport of football were first introduced to me at Torrey Pines Pop Warner. Aside from that, it was some of the most fun moments of my youth.”

The group formed a board that includes President John Principi, a TPHS alum, longtime coach and Falcon football faithful, as well as Tyler Gaffney, the former Cathedral Catholic High School standout who went on to play running back at Stanford and win two Super Bowl rings as a member of the New England Patriots.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Gaffney, 28. “It’s an exciting time, it’s all coming together.”

Now a Carmel Valley resident, Gaffney grew up in the Mira Mesa area and played for their Pop Warner program. He said he was more than willing to get involved to give more kids the ability to play the game that gave him so much, including an understanding of life values and the importance of teamwork, calling on the coaching proverb: “If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

For the 2019 season, Torrey Pines Pop Warner plans to add several new concepts to the program, including new custom jerseys with the athletes’ name on the back as well as custom chrome helmets.

The league is also looking for volunteer coaches and while the program includes just football for the time being, they are looking for someone who would be interested in taking charge of the cheerleading program, which was very popular in Carmel Valley.

Gaffney said it was been encouraging to see that there has been “overwhelming support” from local families in bringing back TP Pop Warner. The program has earned the full support of Torrey Pines Head Football Coach Ron Gladnick.

“I’m so happy for the community and especially the kids who will benefit from the greatest game on earth,” Gladnick said.

To learn more or register, visit torreypinespopwarner.com