ON THE SIDELINES: Let’s establish the Will Poolaw Fan of the Year Award

by Nov 16, 2023SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The first On the Sidelines column I wrote many years ago was on the biggest Cherokee Braves fan I have ever met – Mr. Will Poolaw.  Will is a staple at Cherokee sporting events, and his ever-present smile and can-do attitude bring life into the sidelines at every one of them.

Will Poolaw smiles as he walks in the 111th Cherokee Indian Fair Parade in Cherokee, N.C. on Oct. 3. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Last week, I wrote about the importance of family and fan support for sports.  I’ve been asked to serve on the Braves Athletic Recognition Committee – a position I will take very seriously, and I hope I can do it justice.  My first act I will propose is the establishment of the Will Poolaw Fan of the Year Award.  My thought is that this would go to honor the fan that best exemplifies the positive attitude and enthusiasm for Cherokee sports that is exhibited by Will.

Four years ago, Will, who is Pawnee/Osage/Yuchi/Kiowa and originally from Oklahoma, was made an Honorary Member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  The resolution making the designation was approved unanimously and stated in part, “His dedication to the Cherokee Braves is unlike any other.”

The resolution, which was lovingly submitted by Francine Watty, concluded, “Will has a heart of gold and loves everyone he comes in contact with.  Not only is he devoted to his family, but he is devoted to his community.  His warm welcome and genuine concern about everyone will truly melt your heart.”

I was lucky enough to cover the event where he was honored, and I agree with the resolution and the sentiments in it 100 percent.

Will holds up four fingers signaling “Fourth Quarter and time to work” while cheering on the Cherokee Termites at the Cracker Bowl in Murphy, N.C. on Saturday, Nov. 4.

During the ceremony, he was given the Cherokee name Will Big Heart – a fitting name for sure.

Tribal Council Vice Chairman David Wolfe said on that day, “We appreciate everything that you do for our kids.  There’s been many students that you’ve had an influence on.”

In December 2015, Will was given the Frell Owl Award.  Upon receiving the award, he told the crowd, “Blessings to you all.  I appreciate ya’ll so much.  I love ya’ll so much.”

He does, and it shows.

It is my thought that the Will Poolaw Fan of the Year Award would help to spread his message of positivity mixed with an incredibly strong work ethic.