Past, present and future Wareham Tigers gather for first Alumni Day

By Matthew Bernat | Jul 17, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Past and present Wareham Tigers Athletic Association players and coaches gather in Onset for the program's first Alumni Day.

Even though Wareham Tiger football players and cheerleaders learn how to take a hit and rile up a crowd the right way, coaches say there’s more to the youth league than learning the fundamentals of both sports.

“We have a huge obligation to these knuckleheads to make them better people,” Coach Craig Elwood said with affection.

On Sunday, past, present and future players and cheerleaders gathered at the Dudley L. Brown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post for the first Wareham Tigers Athletic Association Almuni Day. The event doubled as a reunion and introduction to the program that serves boys and girls ages 7 to 13.

Mary Hicks, the Tigers’ fundraising coordinator, had the idea to bring everyone together before practices start Aug. 1 at Palmer Field.

Parents with questions on player safety, and what precautions the program takes to prevent concussions, were encouraged to come, she said.

One coach, Elwood, has a long history with the program. He first played for the Tigers in 1988 and has coached for the past 14 years. Both of his sons played for the Tigers as well. Elwood said the program strikes a balance between football and academics. Getting good grades is just as important as learning football fundamentals, he said.

“It’s not about winning the game,” said Elwood. “It’s about going to school, getting an education and breaking the chains.”

Apryl Rossi, the Tigers’ cheer coordinator, agreed. She noted that four players were named Pop Warner All American Scholars for their academic performance last year. They were among just 35 players from across the country to receive the honor.

Rossi said she hoped Alumni Day would get girls interested in cheering for the Tigers. She noted many cheerleaders are abandoning Pop Warner for other cheer programs, which put more emphasis on acrobatics instead of team spirit.

“This is good support for the team. They get the players and crowd excited. It’s a chance for them to get loud and not get in trouble for it,” said Rossi, who cheered throughout high school and college herself.

Elwood said players and cheerleaders don’t forget the lessons learned with the Tigers. The day before, he received a sweatshirt as a gift from a former player. Written on it was: “A good coach improves your game. A great coach improves your life.”

“We embrace that and try to make these kids’ lives better,” he said.

For more information about the Tigers or to register, visit www.warehamtigers.com.

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