DEVIN & CARIE WARMACK LATEST ADIRONDACK BANK 12TH MAN!
My Hometown Sports – Hard Knocks: Utica Bulldogs
By Peter Pagliaro-MHTS
Tucked deep in the heart of Utica’s Proctor Park is one of Utica’s best kept secrets. Take a stroll through Proctor Park late in the evening on a fall day and you will eventually find it. Amid the sights and sounds of people enjoying the park with a leisurely stroll or bike ride you will find children playing on swing sets and kids playing soccer and basketball.
However, this Utica gem is deeper in the heart of Proctor Park – beyond those sights and sounds. Nestled in beyond the fall foliage and behind the baseball fields you enter a new world – Utica Bulldog Country. The Utica Bulldog’s are one of two Pop Warner and Cheerleading Programs available to children in the Utica area.
When you find the Bulldogs you will meet the latest Adirondack Bank 12th Man honorees. This month we are proud to introduce our first pair of honorees! Devin and Carrie Warmack. Welcome to this exclusive club.
The man and woman behind the Utica Bulldog Pop Warner and Cheer Program are Devin and Carie Warmack. The pair, however, is quick to acknowledge that the success and birth of the Utica Bulldog program are not the work of two individuals alone rather it is the result of many people coming together for a common goal.
The Warmack’s stress that individuals such as Chet and Jessica LoConti, Tammy Kratt, Tito Colon, Maureen Dingle, Mandy Delutis, Chantelle Allen, Kyle Klein, Michelle McCarrick Truett and the many volunteers, families and many others are what makes up the Utica Bulldogs.
Devin and Carie Warmack are not the type of people to sit back and bask in the glory of their accomplishments. The are fast to deflect the attention to others around them.
The time and energy the pair puts into the program should not go unnoticed and surely needs to be applauded. My Hometown Sports (MHTS) had the privilege of setting up camp at the Utica Bulldogs practices for two days in what resembled a local version of the HBO hit show “Hard Knocks” – MHTS Hard Knocks with the Utica Bulldogs.
At the beginning of the week and day one of our visit I found Devin at Proctor Park at work with his boys. You see, for Devin Warmack, it’s not good enough to simply be one of the founders of the league along with its president, but he also serves as head coach of the Junior Pee Wee team.
With a whistle draped around his neck the coach closely watches his young football players as they worked on filling gaps on defense and hitting the holes on offensive sets.
On each play, Warmack, blows his whistle and teaches, instructs and shows by example what he expects and how to execute the play properly.
The coach is not afraid to get dirty and get in the trenches after several attempts to run a play are not up to par. Warmack digs his heels in and demonstrates the play himself asking the young players if they understand.
On another occasion when the coach senses the team is not understanding the play completely he stops practice and yells – “teaching moment”. This is what Devin Warmack is all about.
The story of the Utica Bulldogs Pop Warner Football and Cheer Program goes back six years, when the Utica area was struggling to keep some of its Pop Warner teams alive and kids where bouncing around the Utica area trying to find a team to play for.
At the time Devin and Carie were looking for a place for their oldest son to play after the team he played for the previous year folded. The young couple put some thought into it and asked why not start our own program here in East Utica.
The dynamic duo began to put a plan in action with assistance from many other interested parties and after a series of phone calls and talks with Pop Warner officials – the dream became a reality and the Utica Bulldogs were born.
When discussing both the football and Cheerleading program both Devin and Carie light up. Devin recalled that when the league began six years ago “We had 175 kids and now we have over 300 kids in football and cheer.
“Every year we have more and more families come on board.” Devin mentions that the team is inter-city based but attracts kids from all over the community including West, South and East Utica.
Carie Warmack recalls that in starting the Bulldogs program they wanted to create a place where is was more that just football and Cheerleading. “We wanted something positive, teaching life lessons and developing a sense of community.” Some of the programs that the Bulldogs have been able to develop include a homecoming dance for the older kids and a circus type event for the young kids with face painting and other fun activities.
The Bulldogs also kicked off an anti-bullying campaign by having an anti-bullying rally at Proctor Park where the kids pledged an oath against bullying. The kids also take part in other community events such as for Breast Cancer Awareness where the football players will wear pink socks and the cheerleaders pink bows and socks in order to raise money.
Cheerleaders also took part in an Alzheimer’s Walk at Masonic Home as well as sever other community involement events. Carie feels that these events are important for the kids to connect with their communities and provide them with community awareness opportunities. “For many of the kids this is something they have never done before”, she says.
One of the events that Carie felt was especially important was a trop that took Bulldog team members to a local event featuring guest speaker and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker. Booker spoke on “How to Change the World with Your Bare Hands”. These are the types of events that Carie feels strongly that the kids should be exposed to.
Both Devin and Carie feel that development of the program was something that the area really needed at the time and that’s why they went all in.
Devin remembers playing football himself as a kid on the Cornhill Bears and wants to give area kids that same opportunity. “The kids love it, the kids have a blast out there and on game day it’s an all day affair.” He explained that many of the kids play other sports together such as basketball through the Dick Miller leagues and this is a great opportunity to build lasting friendships. He added that the friendships they build here carry on as “kids start in the program young, as early as age five, and 95 percent of them stay with the program.”
The coach talked about liking the fact that he can now see the kids grow as individuals and football players. He added, “They are good kids and in a way you are parents to them for the two hours or more that they are with you – they are family – they are your kids”. Devin smiles when he talks about what he is most proud of about the Utica Bulldogs program mentioning the seeing the kids come back each year is what makes all the hard work worth it.
Warmack is proud to see that the program is continuing to grow with new families joining and is excited and confident that this program is here to stay and will be here for a long time. Devin reiterates again how none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for a great board, great volunteers and committed coaches.
The Utica Bulldog program is something the Warmack’s and many others are very proud of. Both Devin and Carie agree that running the program is a year round venture as they seek to raise money throughout the year in an effort to keep registration costs low for families so that more families can continue to participate.
Carie finds comfort in the kids, hoping that she can make a difference in their lives. She shared a story of a cheerleader who has been in the program for all of the six years and she has become attached, a second set of parents of sorts. The cheerleader will routinely call her to share her grades and/or significant events in her life – this she said it’s what makes it all worth it.
The Bulldogs have also found success on the field as well. Its football teams are competitive and are always in the running for the championship prize at the end of the year.
The Utica Bulldogs junior midget team brought home a title last year and this year’s junior pee wee squad looks mighty good.
Its Cheerleading squads just came home from competitions at the Utica Memorial Auditorium with both its midget and junior pee wee teams winning first place and its mighty mite and flag teams doing really well at the competition – bringing Carie tears of pride.
Alissa Feliciano, one of Carie’s midget squad cheerleaders has been cheering for three years and talks about how she loves cheering, the competitions and the games. She adds that she has developed lasting friendships, friends to hang out with, talk and dance with. When asked about Coach Carie she says, “She is funny, fun, and really good and really cares about her girls.”
Football and sports for the Warmack’s is a family affair. Devin played high school football for Utica Free Academy (UFA) where he was a running back on some very good teams who played against former Green Bay Packer running back Dorsey Levens as well as Syracuse’s Lazarus Sims.
Devin ultimately hung-up the cleats and traded them in for sneakers and played two years of basketball which landed him at Alabama State. Devin also had tryouts with a pro-league in Sacramento before a fractured ankle put an end to his hoop dreams.
Carie was also a standout athlete at Ilion where she played softball and was a catcher on some very good Ilion softball squads. The Warmack children, Isiah and Jaylen seem to be following in their parents footsteps as they play for the Bulldogs.
Between washing uniforms, working on the playbook, choreographing cheerleading moves, homework, dinner and all the other household chores, life around the Warmack household can get a little busy and hectic.
However, Sundays at the Warmack household is a day to unwind and watch football of course. You will find dad and the boys cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles while mom cheers for any team playing against the Eagles according to Devin. Devin remembers watching the Eagles play the New York Giants and Randall Cunningham going down to one hand while being tackled and staying on his feet and reversing directions when it looked like he was stopped dead in his tracks – with that he was hooked.
With the leadership and dedication of community minded individuals such as Devin and Carie Warmack at the helm the future of the Utica Bulldog program is bright and in good hands.
The two are excited that the City of Utica is working with the Utica Bulldogs for a future home for the Bulldogs at Proctor Park – currently the Bulldogs utilize a trailer for equipment storage and concession items that are transported to home games at Donovan School.
In my two days of watching the football side of the equation and chatting with both Devin and Carie I was hooked – the passion, dedication, and fire that burns inside both of them for Utica Bulldogs football and Cheerleading is contagious. Move over Buffalo Bills – I have a new favorite team!
My Hometown Sports is also thrilled to have Devin and Carie as members of the Adirondack Bank 12th Man team.