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Aurora Gators youth football team seeks funding for trip to Florida in search of national championship

While many football fans were enjoying a slate of college and NFL games this past weekend, the Aurora Gators U12 Pop Warner football team was taking care of business and won its regional championship over Merrillville, Indiana.

The local youth team is now are on its way to Florida, one of eight teams that remain in the country in search of the Pop Warner Super Bowl National Championship.

Team coaches and parents are hoping the sudden spurt of success won’t break too many wallets as the team is now scurrying to secure some help in trying to fund its trip that is set for Orlando next month.

“This is the first time we have won the regionals,” said Ryan Dolan of Oswego, a parent whose son plays for the team. “We’re back-to-back Pop Warner state champions in Division II. Last year we lost to Gary, Indiana, in the regionals, and this year we beat Merrillville.”

The Gator program has been around since 2008 and was known as the Fox Valley Gators until 2015 at which time the program affiliated itself with West Aurora High School, Dolan said. The organization is fortunate enough to practice at West High and have all its home games there as well, he said.

Dolan said the recent flurry of success has also launched some fundraising efforts as the team gets ready to go to Florida.

“With this win, it really throws you into a quick tailspin because it’s a very fast turnaround,” Dolan said. “Pop Warner looks for us to have funds in by the end of this week to cover hotel expenses and that type of thing.”

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Dolan said most of the team “will be down there (in Orlando) by Nov. 30 or the first of December” and “if you run the table, it (the tournament) goes to Dec. 10.”

“If you lose, it gets cut back by a couple of days,” he said. “Myself, I’m a business owner in Aurora and another dad has an electrical company here in town and we’ve just been kind of working with our own contacts and friends and businesses locally to see if we can get some buzz together from the Aurora community. We’ve put a GoFundMe effort and want to get the kids out to kind of pass-the-helmet one of these days on a corner somewhere and see what they can do.”

If you’d like to support the team, you can go to the GoFundMe site or contact the Fox Valley Gators YFLC Association Inc. at 2112 W. Galena Blvd, Aurora, IL 60506, or call 630-201-7550.

The GoFundMe for the Gators is at

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.


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