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Chesterton Pop Warner coach, son bond through football

ChestertPop Warner coach Bill Warren his sJake. | Phoprovided

Chesterton Pop Warner coach Bill Warren and his son Jake. | Photo provided

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Updated: October 26, 2013 6:25AM



Many parents coach multiple children, both boys and girls, in multiple youth sports for several years and find it to be a truly rewarding experience.

The time spent together by parent/coach and child/player often builds a bond that will endure for life.

One such duo is Bill Warren of Chesterton and his son Jake. Warren has coached youth sports for 13 years, beginning with fastpitch softball with daughters Samantha, 16, and Renae, 15.

This season, Warren begins his sixth and possibly his last year of coaching Pop Warner football. Sixth-grader Jake will be leaving Pop Warner for middle school football next year in what will be a bittersweet experience for both father and son.

Whether or not he will be able to help out as a coach at the middle school level remains to be seen, but when this year is finished, Bill Warren hopes that he will have fulfilled his primary duty as a coach: Giving the kids a positive experience, and helping them get ready for the next level.

Warren, 44, is a 1987 Merrillville graduate who played defensive end for coach Frank O’Shea on a Duneland Conference championship team. After high school, Warren continued to play football in local flag football leagues right up until the time Jake was born — literally.

When Warren’s wife, Valerie, went into labor with Jake, the family had to come get Bill off the football field and he just barely arrived at the hospital in time for the birth of his son.

Jake began playing Pop Warner football at the age of 5. Bill had not originally intended to be a coach.

“I was standing there watching, and I found myself inching a few steps closer and then a few more steps closer to the field,” Warren said. “The next thing I knew, I was on the field, holding a bag in blocking drills. At that point it was pointed out to me that there were procedures and formalities involved in becoming a coach, so I went through the process, got the formalities out of the way, and I’ve been coaching ever since.”

Chesterton plays in the Northern Indiana Pop Warner League that features teams from Valparaiso, Highland, Hobart, Merrillville, Michigan City, Gary, North Newton, LaPorte, Knox and the Tri-Town Raiders program that has played for the national championship four times.

In 2010, Bill coached Jake and the Chesterton Junior Mitey Mites to an undefeated (6-0-1) season.

“That was my most enjoyable year of coaching,” Bill said. “We started out with 14 kids and after injuries we finished with 12 players and all of the kids except one scored a touchdown that year.

“My philosophy as a coach is to treat all my players like they were my own kids. I’m invested in my kids. So I guess you could say I am a players’ coach. It’s all about the players and the players’ families. You have to remember that they’re just kids and they deserve to have fun and each one deserves to have their moment in the sun. And I always try to make sure that each kid gets his moment so their parents in the stands can elbow the person next to them and say ‘That’s my son.’ ”

Warren’s philosophy has been a successful one. He says he has never had a bad evaluation from a parent. In fact, one incident showed how much he goes out of the way for those parents.

“In July of 2010 I had a mom tell me she was delighted that her son was going to be playing for me,” he said. “Then she told me that her husband was a high ranking military commander in Iraq and had never seen his son play, but that he hoped to be back for our first game. So my goal from that point on was to have that kid score our first touchdown that season so his dad could see it.

“So I told all of our kids if they were about to score to step out at the 1-yard line. So on the opening kickoff of the season, our returner goes 60 yards for what looks like a touchdown but he steps out at the 1-yard line. So I look into the stands and I see his dad limping toward his seat, so I stall until he is watching and then I send his son into the backfield and he dives in for a touchdown.”

As far as Jake is concerned, he hopes to be making his parents proud wearing a different uniform in a few years.

“My mom has always wanted to hear the Purdue PA announcer say ‘Warren the ball carrier,’” Jake said. “Football has always been part of my life. I was born to be a football player.”



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