There probably aren’t many New York Giants fans who will watch this Sunday’s season finale against Philadelphia with feelings of nostalgia and fondness toward Big Blue.
The Golderman family from Guilderland, though, are among the fans who might be able to look past the Giants’ 6-9 record and poor midseason performances to see something worth celebrating.
It was the Giants who introduced the Goldermans to the NFL’s Punt, Pass & Kick competition. By winning the local and sectional titles, 13-year-old Jamie Golderman earned her second trip to MetLife Stadium to compete in the Team Championship for a spot in the national championship.
She won the competition in East Rutherford, N.J., on Dec. 14 before the Giants game against Washington, claiming the 12/13-year-old girls’ championship with a total distance of 200 feet, six inches.
It wasn’t one of the top four totals in the nation, though, so she won’t be going to nationals. Not this year, anyway.
“I was definitely thrilled that I won this year at Giants Stadium. I wasn’t disappointed I didn’t make it to nationals,” Jamie said. “I saw it as the next step to keep going into the competition, and I still have two years left. I wasn’t extremely disappointed. I think the win at Giants Stadium was really special for me.”
She said this being her second time advancing that far, she was less nervous, and that helped.
“I was in awe [the first time], definitely, especially because I was younger,” she said.
“Everybody was like, ‘Oh, my God, these professional football players are so big!’
“I kind of knew the routine [this time] and what we do. We go to the training facility, have the competition, then go onto the field for the Giants game.”
Jamie is the third Golderman child to compete in the Punt, Pass & Kick Team Championships at Giants Stadium. Her older brother Eric, now 20, made it there twice. Her older sister Rebecca, now 17, won the event two years ago to earn a trip to the national finals in Atlanta, prior to a playoff game between the Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
The kids were first introduced to the competition at the University at Albany during Giants training camp.
“We were rabid fans, so we went over all the time,” said their father, Phil Golderman. “One day, they had the Punt, Pass & Kick competition for all the kids, and it was really a great event because you had the Giants there and all the kids were participating. That’s how it all started for us, and all our kids have been doing it throughout the years.”
This love of the sport, though, doesn’t come from playing it.
Phil wasn’t allowed to join the football team when he was a student at Albany High School, as his parents were worried about the severity of the injuries football players sometimes suffer. He and his wife, Renee, adopted the same approach with their children, but that doesn’t stop them from being athletic.
Eric played soccer, basketball and baseball for Guilderland, and both girls play soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
It also doesn’t stop them, just as it didn’t stop their dad, from playing a little football, recreationally.
“If my folks would have let me, I would have,” Phil said. “Trust me, I played plenty of football in the streets with my buddies, but they would never let me suit up to play a contact sport.”
“Although, we do let our kids play football on Thanksgiving morning, for fun,” Renee said.
So the Goldermans’ success in the PP&K competition hasn’t been a result of any organized football experience, but rather just practice and general athleticism.
It helps, though, that all three play or have played soccer, since two of the three events involve kicking.
Their general athleticism also has helped them in the classroom.
“I really think it’s helped them be well-balanced kids,” Renee said. “They’re not just good athletes, they’re good, academically. They’re forced, in a good way, to be totally organized. They’re competing, training, at a game, but they’re also in honors classes and doing well in school. I think sports has helped that, helped them keep that organization. Being part of a team has helped them academically, as well as athletically.”
It also has forged a bond between the siblings. They have been on the sidelines for each other and have helped each other train for their various sports, and the PPK competition is no different.
When Eric and Rebecca were getting started, practicing their punts, passes and kicks, Jamie was the designated ball retriever. Now, they chase the ball for her, and they help her improve her technique.
“It makes me feel like I can actually do this, and they all believe in me,” Jamie said. “That’s a good feeling to have when you’re in the competition.”
She’d like to make it to nationals next year, as a 14-year-old, though she said it had nothing to do with getting there one year earlier than her sister, Rebecca, who did so at 15.
“I think it’s really cool, keeping the tradition going,” Jamie said. “That’s what I think it’s about. Also, the experience is really fun. I wish more kids got to do this. We were lucky enough that me and both my siblings got to do this wonderful event.”