Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football organization, seeks to inspire children to be their best. They recognize a kindred spirit in Gerald McCoy.
On Saturday McCoy, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' third-year defensive tackle, will receive the "Inspiration to Youth" award at the 52nd annual Pop Warner All-American Scholastic Banquet, a star-studded gathering of difference-makers in the world of sports.
Former New England Patriots tackle Matt Light, legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt and current Executive Director of the NFLPA DeMaurice Smith will also be honored at Saturday's banquet at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort. Pop Warner considers all of its honorees to be role models for their sports' participants. As always, the organization will also recognize over nine thousand of its young athletes as All-American Scholars. Charles Davis will serve as the event's emcee and Pop Warner will present its NFL Team of the Year Award, as well.
"We are honored to recognize such a distinguished group of awardees at this year's All-American Scholastic Banquet," said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. "We are proud to share their inspirational stories and hard-earned accomplishments with the Pop Warner community and commend the lasting impact each individual has made on the sports industry."
In his first two seasons with the Buccaneers, McCoy quickly emerged as one of the team's most impactful figures both on and off the field. He sponsors a gameday ticket program called "Gerald's Giants" that provides a special gameday experience at Raymond James Stadium for kids from local charities. In December 2011, McCoy also helped surprise 30 families with tickets, gift cards, a shopping spree and more for the team's fifth annual "Day of Giving" event. In November of 2010 and 2011, McCoy, alongside teammates and General Manager Mark Dominik, greeted soldiers recovering from injury and illness at James A. Haley VA Hospital in honor of Veterans' Day. The gregarious defender even hosted a private movie screening of Marvel's "The Avengers" for 400 local fans earlier in the month as a way to give back to Buccaneers fans this offseason in a unique and fun environment.
Pop Warner grants an average of $110,000 in annual scholarships, and in 2012 will award its one-millionth scholarship dollar. Founded in 1929, Pop Warner is the world's largest youth football, cheerleading and dance organization and the only youth sports organization that emphasizes academics as a prerequisite for participation. Currently there are over 400,000 children in Pop Warner organizations in 43 states, Scotland, Germany, Russia, Japan and Mexico. The NFLPA estimates that 70% of all current NFL Players got their start in Pop Warner programs.