Cold weather and bursts of heavy rain did not deter about 75 local youths from participating in this year’s local NFL Punt, Pass and Kick contest held Monday at Union College’s Bailey Field.
More than 100 youngsters from across the region originally registered for the event, which was scheduled to take place last Monday but was postponed because of rain. About 75 kids ended up participating.
“We have to get this in tonight,” said Schenectady County Youth Bureau Executive Director Ed Kosiur, explaining the deadline to submit all local scores was Oct. 1, but the NFL gave them a short extension.
The competition was established in 1961 for boys and girls ages six to 15 and is the oldest youth football program of the NFL. Boys and girls from five separate age divisions compete to see who can punt, pass and kick the farthest.
A score is obtained by adding together the length in feet of each contestant’s punt, pass and kick. Ten winners — the boy and girl with the largest score from each age division — move on to the next round. This is the third year the county youth bureau, the Schenectady Boys and Girls Club and the Union College Athletic Department have held a local event.
“It’s just a great way to get parents and youths to come out for what’s essentially a free event,” said Kosiur. “It’s a chance for them to play on an artificial football field and turf, and it’s exciting to see the camaraderie that occurs between the kids.”
The winners from Monday’s contest in Schenectady will move on to the local sectional contest in Hudson on Oct. 17. The sectional winners will then compete in the regional contest on Dec. 12, which takes place at New Meadowlands Stadium where the New York Giants will take on the Minnesota Vikings.
Those regional winners will compete in the national finals contest in January against kids from across the country. They have the potential to move on to the championship at the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 in Dallas.
Kyle Steele of Scotia, 10, competed in the contest for the first time. He said he would definitely participate next year because the contest was “fun” and his friends were there.
“He really likes this type of competition, plus we’re Giants fans, so that’s an extra incentive,” said Kyle’s mom, Roberta.
Javar Tillman of Schenectady said his children, Javar Jr., 15, and Murarice, 11, have participated in a local Punt, Pass and Kick event for the past five years.
“It’s something for the kids to do, and we definitely see them re-connect with kids from past years,” said Tillman. “A lot of these kids play in different football leagues, but they play each other. Here it’s different. They actually get to interact.”
The event’s local winners were:
* age 6 and 7 group —Alex Gannon of Schenectady, (no girls were entered in this age group);
* age 8 and 9 group —Jamie Goldman of Albany and Lorenzo Gannon of Schenectady;
* age 10 and 11 group — Christina Krewson of Schenectady and Dominic Barnett of Rotterdam Junction;
* age 12 and 13 group — Rebecca Golderman of Albany and Austin France of Duanesburg;
* age 14 and 15 group — Stephanie VanNostrand of Broadalbin and Javar Tillman Jr. of Schenectady.
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