OCTOBER BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH,**** OCT 6TH NJSPWC GENERAL MEETING 8PM **** OCT 18TH CHEER/DANCE COMPETITION/EXPO ORDER FORMS UNDER DOCUMENTS
Welcome to NJSPW's home on the web!
Welcome to the New Jersey Shore Pop Warner Conference website. Here, you'll be able to get news, information, schedules, rosters, game results, directions and much much more. Check back frequently for the latest information about our club.
As Lauren Searby Burdge was getting ready for work one morning, her phone alerted her that one of her friends had added a new post to Facebook.
The post was written by the mother of one of Burdge’s former cheerleaders. The mother explained that her daughter’s first college paper was a memoir about how the experience of cheering under Burdge’s direction was an unforgettable highlight of her life.
When Burdge pulled up the page, this is what she saw:
“As I look back on all of this now, I can finally see that it was competing in nationals that made me break out of my comfort zone,” the Facebook post wrote. “I learned confidence, leadership, how to overcome fears and, most importantly, positivity. As I go on through life, I’ve noticed that I owe all my strengths to that magical day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way … and it ended with me being able to accept who I am as a person and remind myself that I can achieve anything if I believe in myself.”
One could call that message “post gold,” an instant mood-booster.
One could also say that it’s a testament to the power of youth athletics.
Burdge, now the president of Freehold Area Pop Warner in New Jersey, is extremely proud to have been a part of something so meaningful. Below, Burdge discusses the responsibilities of her post, her tremendous support system and what keeps her coming back year after year.
How did you become involved with Freehold Area Pop Warner?
My daughter, Gina, was age eligible to start cheering back in August 2003 when she was 5.
But actually, your history with the club spans farther than that: You were a cheerleader when my husband (former Detroit Lions offensive lineman Scott Conover) played for the club when he was in the eighth grade – in the fall of 1981. When you think back to that time, what pops into your head?
Yes. I was 9 when I started cheering for Freehold Pop Warner, and that song from Queen, “We Will Rock You,” we made it to the championship game one year, and I was in the eighth grade. We went on a bus trip to North Carolina – girls, boys and parents, all of us. I’m telling you, every time we got off the bus, they played that song. Everyone was yelling and dancing, and it was awesome. Even now, after all these years, whenever I hear that song, I am right back on that bus again.
And you are still in contact with many of your Pop Warner league members, right?
I have a dear friend, David Hunt, who I was chatting with recently about Freehold Pop Warner, and I looked and him and said, ‘Do you realize that I’ve known you for 37 years because of Pop Warner?’ He was my husband’s best friend, and he was one of my best friends. We all went to grammar school and high school together. So, it’s true. You become a family.
Describe what some of your responsibilities entail as president.
You’re going to get out as much as you put in, and my No. 1 priority is our kids. Whether they participate in the cheerleading program or football program, we want to make sure they’re getting everything they need. Obviously, safety comes first, so it’s my job to ensure that my VP of cheer and my VP of football are getting as much information as they can to have a safe, successful program. It’s concussion classes. It’s USA Football classes. It’s cheerleading classes. It’s making sure (the staff) has as much knowledge as possible to be successful.
What is the absolute best thing about serving this club as president?
The kids, seeing their faces. It’s amazing. Seeing them out on the field, seeing them practice. When you see a girl – who is brand new to the program – talking to her teammate, laughing and listening to the coaches, it’s so rewarding because here’s this girl who didn’t know anybody … and now she’s making friendships that will last a lifetime.
What is your vision for the club for the upcoming season? What’s your biggest goal?
My main concern is that the kids have fun when they play or cheer. I think that’s extremely important for the fundamentals of the program. The whole idea of them joining the Pop Warner program is for them to learn a sport – whether it’s football or cheerleading. So our goal is to give them as much as we can to help them learn the sport they’re interested in. My goal is for all the children who go out on that field to reach their full potential in a sport that they love to participate in.
Tell me about the club’s support system and some of the ways it contributes to the club’s overall success.
Our community in Freehold is invaluable to us because they truly support us. The school system, Freehold Township School System, supports us by allowing us to practice at their schools. And our parents obviously play such an important role because they’re the ones who are bringing our kids to practice and picking them up every day…and our volunteers, and our coaches – 18 cheerleading coaches and five football coaches.
What are the three words that describe Freehold Pop Warner the best?
That’s tough, but I’m going to say “ambitious, dedicated and family-oriented.”
Tell me more about your family, your interests.
I have three children: Gina, 19, Jake, 15, and George IV, who is 6. Gina aged out of the cheerleading program a couple years ago, but she did come back and served as a student demonstrator and coach. Jake plays soccer, and George, my little guy, is just going to first grade. In my spare time …
What spare time?
(Burdge laughs) I really don’t have any spare time, but I also run the cheerleading program for New Jersey Shore Pop Warner in addition to serving as president of Freehold Pop Warner. Life is crazy from August through December. But honestly? The men and women who are on our board for Freehold are so educated with regard to what they are doing, it makes my job very easy.
I know you take your commitment to serve as president extremely seriously and there are a ton of things you could be doing with your time. Why do you do this?