Fullerton Junior All American Bears

The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are members of the Orange County Junior All American Football Conference (OCJAAF). Comprised of twenty-nine (29) chapter (city) members throughout the Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, OCJAAF is the largest youth football and cheerleading organization in the nation. The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are honored to contribute to OCJAAF's diversity, which makes the Orange County Junior All American Football Conference number one in competition. The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are proud to sponsor OCJAAF's core values of "family" and of "community" - the standards that keep OCJAAF and the Fullerton Junior All American Bears a leading youth football and cheerleading organization. Families come in many combinations and we celebrate the word of "family" as meaning: team, the Fullerton Junior All American Bears, community and the OCJAAF Conference. There is nothing stronger than the spirit in the word of family and you will see it and feel it within the Fullerton Junior All American Bears organization and our OCJAAF Conference.

The objective of the Fullerton Junior All American Bears program is to inspire youth, regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin; to practice the ideals of health, citizenship and character; to bring our youth closer together through the means of a common interest in sportsmanship, fair play and fellowship; to impart to the game elements of safety, sanity and intelligent supervision; and to keep the welfare of the player and/or cheerleader first, foremost and entirely free of adult lust for glory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pop Warner Game = 5 Concussions

One Pop Warner game results in five concussions

By Bob Hohler
Globe Staff / October 20, 2012          
In an alarming case of young athletes being put at risk, five children suffered concussions last month in a Pop Warner football game that resulted in disciplinary action against both coaches and association presidents.
The injured children, all 10 to 12 years old, played for the Tantasqua Pee Wees Sept. 15 when they were overrun, 52-0, by a Southbridge team whose website’s banner states, “Are You Tough Enough.’’
The five children missed various numbers of school days because of their injuries, and one has not returned to the field.
The coaches, Southbridge’s Scott Lazo and Tantasqua’s Erik Iller, were suspended for the remainder of the season and placed on probation through the 2013 season after a lengthy hearing Thursday conducted by Central Mass. Pop Warner.
The association presidents, Lazo’s brother, Doug Lazo of Southbridge, and Iller’s wife, Jen Iller of Tantasqua, also were placed on probation through the 2013 season because they attended the game and failed to take action, according to the hearing committee.
In addition, the three officials who worked the game have been permanently banned by Central Mass. Pop Warner.
“Having multiple concussions in one game is something that should never happen, ever,’’ said Patrick Inderwish, president of Central Mass. Pop Warner. “One concussion is too many.’’
He said the hearing committee attributed the injuries to “bad officiating and decision-making by the coaches and all other parties involved.’’
“That game doesn’t represent what Pop Warner stands for in any way,’’ Inderwish said.
Pop Warner regulations require officials to invoke a series of mercy rules once the gap in the score reaches 28 points. But the mercy rules went unenforced and at least one boy suffered a concussion on a play that should have been ruled dead.
Inderwish said the officials had an obligation to stop the game if they considered the safety of the players at risk.
Tantasqua filed a complaint after the game, alleging violations of weigh-in procedures, the mercy rule, and player safety. Yet the hearing committee ultimately ruled that the Tantasqua staff shared responsibility for the injuries.
Jen Iller, whose son played in the game and was not injured, said she was very disturbed by the concussions. But she said she considered the discipline against Tantasqua “completely unfair’’ because the officials put the children at risk by failing to invoke the mercy rule and take other preventative measures.
Efforts to reach Scott Lazo, who is a member of the Southbridge School Committee, and Doug Lazo were unsuccessful.
Inderwish said the hearing committee disciplined the Tantasqua staff as severely as Southbridge’s because the Tantasqua officials also violated Pop Warner’s code of conduct obligating them to protect their players.
“There’s an obligation to walk across the field and say, ‘This thing is out of hand,’ and nobody did that,’’ he said.
Iller said Tantasqua staff members with emergency medical training evaluated the injured children during the game but did not consider their conditions serious enough to warrant further attention. Because the concussions were not diagnosed until after the game, the children continued playing. Numerous medical reports have indicated that playing with undiagnosed concussions increases the risk of more serious damage.
“Additional hits to the head in the minutes after a concussion can be devastating,’’ said Chris Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute, which is dedicated to addressing the problem of sports concussions. “We do a terrible job diagnosing concussions at the time of injury because they are so difficult to see as an observer.
“There is almost no hope of diagnosing a concussion in a child at the time of injury unless it is obvious because they are knocked out.’’
The incident raises questions about the ability of Pop Warner Little Scholars, the nation’s largest youth football organization, to enforce the rules it established in 2010 aimed at reducing brain injuries caused by concussions. The rules were strengthened this year to limit contact in practices.
“Nothing is more important to Pop Warner than the safety and well-being of our players,’’ the hearing committee stated. “Pop Warner has put in place the most stringent concussion rules in youth sports and we will continue to find ways to ensure football is safe and fun for our young athletes.’’
Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.end of story marker

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pop Warner's Cover Up

Published: Oct. 18, 2012 Updated: 6:33 p.m.

A gap in Pop Warner video: Cover-up?


Investigators looking into the Tustin Pop Warner bounty allegations have been given video of a youth football game played last season which could help them determine whether five missing minutes on the video is evidence of a cover-up.

The video supplied by the Tustin Red Cobras' videographer to team parents last October — and brought to the attention of The Register this week — is missing six of Tustin's defensive plays, two of which resulted in cash payments for Tustin players, according to a former assistant coach on that team.

The video has come to light at a time when National Pop Warner officials are investigating accusations that during the 2011 season Tustin's Junior Pee Wee coaches created an incentive program in which opponents were targeted and Red Cobras' 10-and 11-year-old players were paid cash for big hits and more cash for knocking targeted opponents out of games.

Former Red Cobra assistant coach John Zanelli on Thursday turned the video — plus a second video that shows every play in the game — over to Pop Warner investigators.

Head coach Darren Crawford and assistant coach Richard Bowman have denied paying money for hits. Crawford and Tustin Pop Warner President Pat Galentine have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

The video from last season's Oct. 29 playoff game against Yorba Linda was posted on Box.net, a file-sharing website that can be accessed only by team parents and invited guests. It shows the game's first two plays, then a disclaimer appears on the screen: "Missing Video through minute 5:54 in the 1st Quarter." Play then resumes from that point and continues uninterrupted until the end of the game.

The end of the video says: "CREDITS Richard Bethell (with apologies for the missing video)."

Zanelli, who is among a group of parents and players making the bounty allegations, was sent another video this week by a parent who is not being named to protect the identity of his son. Zanelli played the two videos side-by-side for The Register.

The second video shows two big hits by Tustin players. In the first hit, a Tustin player sacks the Yorba Linda quarterback, causing a fumble and resulting in a touchdown for the Red Cobras. In the second hit, a Tustin player makes a hard tackle, driving the Yorba Linda ball carrier into the ground on his back. Neither play resulted in a penalty against Tustin.

According to two players and two parents interviewed by The Register, both players who made those tackles were voted by their teammates as having made the game's "big hits."

The father of one of the players who won the vote told The Register he saw his son receive money from Crawford for that hit. Crawford told The Register that his memory is "hazy" from that day, and that "Maybe I did give him money to go to the snack bar."

The Bethell video does not include those plays.

"It is way too coincidental that the two players who received money were on both ends of the missing footage," Zanelli said. "The missing footage would help conceal the program from the parents who watched the video."

In an interview this week, Bethell said no edits (other than adding the disclaimer and credit line) were made to the video. Bethell, the team's videographer for the previous nine games of that season, said he simply "missed those plays." Bethell said he does remember adding the disclaimer including the color of the font he used. The video was posted on Oct. 31, 2011, two days after the game and has not been modified since.

Bethell said he did not remember what happened to cause the gap in the video.

"I may have gone to the car to get batteries," Bethell said. "Do I remember (going to the car)? No. Not precisely.

"If I had those sections of the game," Bethell added, "they would be in the video."

Bethell accused Zanelli of lying about details of the investigation.

"He (Zanelli) is probably not telling the truth about anything else involved in this matter."

So far in the investigation, The Register has confirmed that six parents and players have told National Pop Warner investigators that Red Cobras players were offered cash for hits during three playoff games in 2011.

Zanelli, former equipment manager Paul Bunkers and others have said players were offered between $20 and $50 by Crawford and Bowman for big hits in games against Yorba Linda, Santa Margarita and San Bernardino, and that the kids got more money when opposing players were knocked out of the game. In the Santa Margarita game, a Red Cobras player was paid after he delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on a Santa Margarita ball carrier who left the game with a mild concussion.

The Red Cobras advanced to the Pop Warner Super Bowl tournament in 2011 before being eliminated in the semifinals by a team from Washington D.C.

Contact the writer at ksharon@ocregister.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pop Warner sued in the I.E.

Published: Oct. 17, 2012 Updated: 6:22 p.m.

Mickadeit: Pop Warner sued in the I.E.


Even as Pop Warner investigates allegations that some Orange County coaches instituted a bounty program, the youth football organization and a coach in Riverside County have been sued by parents who say the coach wrenched their son's neck at a game.

The player's father contacted me after reading the articles Keith Sharon and I wrote alleging that coaches on the Tustin Red Cobras paid players who hit opponents the hardest, with added cash if they knocked them out of the game.

"Our goal is similar to yours, I think, in that we hope to bring light and attention to these problems so that the situation may be improved for the kids still in the program," wrote Brett Goldberg, whose 7-year-old son, Chase, played on the Riverside Buccaneers Pop Warner team last year.

The lawsuit alleges that at a game played on Oct. 2, 2011 coach Steve Tims was "seething in anger" at the play of Chase and pulled him from the game. "As Chase approached the sideline," the lawsuit says, "Mr. Tims violently grabbed Chase by the facemask, completely stopping his motion and wrenching Chase's neck. Mr. Tims then towered above Chase ... and began to jerk and pull Chase's facemask while screaming insults related to Chase's performance."

Chase's mother ran to the sidelines to intervene, the suit says. The next day, Chase's doctor found he had a "grade 3 neck contusion, consistent with whiplash (and) ... interior bruising on the front and side of his neck." He wore a neck brace for several days and took pain medication.

Tims told me, "It never happened. ... Absolutely not." He declined further comment.

The Goldbergs have alleged assault, battery and seven other torts.

Pop Warner had not filed an answer as of last week but was seeking arbitration, which Goldberg said he will oppose. Ian Stewart, a Los Angeles lawyer hired by Pop Warner, said he is investigating the incident and couldn't comment at this time.

Goldberg said his son physically recovered in about a week. "He was very frightened by his coach. I feel the physical injury is evidence of how extreme the verbal berating was. We don't talk about the incident with him (to date) and he's moved on, having lost interest in football. He plays soccer now at AYSO Riverside and we've been pleased with our experience with this organization."

Stewart is the same attorney conducting the Tustin investigation for national Pop Warner. Within the last week, at least six of the parents and former Tustin players who talked to Keith and me were interviewed by Stewart and another Pop Warner official. It's unclear when it will be concluded.

Contact 714:796-4994 or fmickadeit@ocregister.