It was Pop Warner Day at the Derbyshire Sports Complex on Wednesday, Jul. 19. The Mainland High School varsity football players were ready. They stormed the field with equipment in-hand and setup multiple drill stations in preparation to coach the Daytona Beach Pop Warner football players.
Thomas Roland is in his 31st year as the Pop Warner Commissioner. He attributes his love for kids and involvement with sports his entire life to his lengthy tenure in the position. Unlike his son, Mainland graduate and football coach Travis Roland, he graduated from Seabreeze High School where he was a running back and corner back for the team.
“I do this because I love kids,” he said. “Everything I’ve done in my life has been working with kids, most of the time.”
Thomas Roland coached most of the Mainland varsity players when they went through the Pop Warner program. If they did not play football in the program, they usually had a brother, cousin or even an uncle who did.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see Mainland giving back to the program that they came from to help these kids out,” he said. “You see how the kids are so happy out there because now they have high school guys teaching them. I want them to take a positive attitude away from this and see what these kids (Mainland players) went through. If they do the right thing, do their school work—academics first—they can take this sport and go a long way, if you put your mind to it.”
The reason why I have this smile on my face is because, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame or glory of winning the state championship. The best thing to me is seeing the smiles on these kids faces and just a kid saying thank you. Like a young kid coming up and saying ‘coach Westbrook, thank you’. That’s it. Makes my day. - Arthur Westbrook, Mainland football coach
This was Arthur Westbrook’s fifteenth year coaching for Daytona Beach Pop Warner football. He is going on his thirteenth year as a running back coach for Mainland where he teaches Algebra and Geometry.
“This is where it starts, right here,” he said. “When you build a house, you have to have a foundation. So it starts here with the youth. We want to teach them the fundamentals and just the little things. Once they get over to us, if they come to us, to Mainland High School, at least they have the foundation and the fundamentals.”
Approximately 125 players, ranging in age from six to fifteen years old, arrived at the Pop Warner Day practice where Mainland players coached the kids through a warm-up and football oriented drills. Westbrook said it is all about the repetitions, not only for the six and seven-year-olds but for the older players as well.
“If you’re doing the same thing every day, it becomes muscle memory,” he said. “If you do something every day, five days a week, it just becomes natural to you every single day in practice.”
Mainland Athletic Director Terrence Anthony helped his players run the quarterback drills. He hopes the kids see the older players have returned to encourage and support them like high school players did for them in their days with Pop Warner.
“‘Buc Pride Never Dies’ resonates in this community,” he said.
Westbrook said he stays involved because he loves kids.
“The reason why I have this smile on my face is because, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame or glory of winning the state championship,” Westbrook said. “The best thing to me is seeing the smiles on these kids faces and just a kid saying thank you. Like a young kid coming up and saying ‘coach Westbrook, thank you’. That’s it. Makes my day.”