Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 3, Page 16
Alumni Profile - The Commish

     Football has been a recurrent theme in Ron Dilatush's life. A
first-team, All-American football player at West Windsor-Plainsboro
High School in New Jersey, he was recruited to play football at the
University of Delaware.
     However, once he settled in on campus, Dilatush, Delaware '82,
elected to play baseball, lettering for the Blue Hens.
     "I enjoyed playing football, but I guess I just wanted a break,"
Dilatush recalls. "Baseball was a sport that I played since I was a
kid. It was a great experience playing at Delaware, but I have to
laugh when I think about how things turned out."
     Last August, Dilatush, who lives in Yardley, Pa., was named the
national football commissioner of the Pop Warner Little Scholars, a
national youth football, flag football and cheerleading organization.
He oversees approximately 4,200 tackle football teams and 632 flag
football teams in the United States, Mexico and Japan.
     Although he had hoped to make a career in sports television or
sports marketing after graduation, Dilatush instead teamed up with his
father selling financial services for 10 years with The Prudential.
     Actively involved in youth sports and other community
organizations with his three children, Dilatush began networking with
youth sports people across the country. Ultimately, Dick Case, the
executive director of USA Baseball, gave Dilatush's name to the Pop
Warner organization in the summer of 1994.
     Pop Warner football began in 1929 when the owner of a new factory
in Northeast Philadelphia enlisted the aid of a young friend, Joseph
Tomlin, to solve a recurring problem. The factory's huge, floor-to-
ceiling windows were being shattered-100 broken windows in just two
months-by teenagers hurling stones from a nearby vacant lot.
     Tomlin suggested that building owners fund an athletic program
for the young teenagers. Fall was approaching, so football seemed a
logical sport to begin the new project.
     By 1933, the league had expanded to 16 teams and Pop Warner, a
legendary coach at Temple University, became a regular motivational
speaker at the league's football banquets. In appreciation of his
support, the fledgling youth program was named the Pop Warner
     Today, there are 225,000 children participating in eight
different age/weight classifications with more than 25,000 adult
     "My job is to work with our eight regions nationally and
administer tackle and flag football, to help interpret our rules and
to work with our adult volunteers," says Dilatush. "I help recruit new
leagues into our organization and help set up our annual national
championship games. This year, the games and banquets will be held at
Disney World."
     Two of his biggest challenges are the issues of safety and cost.
"With the age and weight limits plus the use of good equipment,
there's a low incidence of injury," says Dilatush. "We're working with
national sponsors to try to drive down the cost of equipment, which is
one of the greatest obstacles to adding more leagues."
     Academic excellence is another competition integral to the Pop
Warner organization. Being named an All-American scholar is a coveted
honor for any Pop Warner player or cheerleader.
     "Kids must be doing decently in school, or improving as a result
of their participation, to play in our leagues," says Dilatush. "We
have an annual banquet honoring our top scholar-athletes each year. We
feel very strongly about encouraging kids to do better in school and
support the concept of academics and athletics going hand-in-hand."
                                                         -Terry Conway