By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 15, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 15, 2013) -- Fort Rucker Youth Sports provides an avenue for children of all ages on the installation to compete in friendly competitions, but it also provides a setting for some to advance to a high level of competition.
The youth sports program held the Punt, Pass & Kick competition, which was developed by the National Football League, Aug. 10 at the youth football field for children ranging from 6 to 15, and the winners for each age group gets the opportunity to advance to sectionals and beyond.
The winners of the competition are: Corbyn Stone, boys 6-7 year-old winner; Hayden Stowe, boys 8-9 year-old winner; Jordan Hawkins, boys 10-11 year-old winner; Kyla Tynan, girls 10-11 year-old winner; Josh VonEschenbach, 12-13 year-old winner; and Andrew Osteen, 14-15 year-old winner.
"I feel really good about winning because I like football," said VonEschenbach. "I've been playing football for about three years and I like to play with my brothers."
"It feels good to see him play because we weren't sure what sports would be like when we moved here," said his mother, Melissa. "We're so thankful that they had an opportunity like this for them to come out and play."
Fellow parents W01 Joey Dean Edwards, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, and his wife, Candice, agreed.
"We just wanted him to get out here, compete and get ready for the football season, and this was a good way to see where he was at," said Joey of his son, Jordan, who won in the 10-11 year-old boys category.
"It's been fun to watch him compete against the other children. We really enjoy watching him play," added Candice. "Promoting things like this really encourages kids to stay active and competitive in sports and other activities, and I just enjoy that."
During the competition, each participant was allowed one punt, one pass and one placekick as part of the competition, and the scores were based on both distance and accuracy, according to the programs website, www.nflppk.com.
If a participant throws the ball 100 feet, but the ball lands 30 feet to the right or left of the measuring tape, the final score for that portion is determined by deducting 30 from 100 for a score of 70, according to the site. The final scores are determined by the sum of the three classes of scores.
The top finishers of each age category have the opportunity to move on the sectional round where they will compete against other boys and girls of the same age group from other local competitions. From there, participants will compete to move onto the Team Championships, then the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick Team Championship, where they will compete for a spot in the National Championship.
The NFL developed the program as a way to teach the fundamentals of the game and help children better understand teamwork, but an added benefit is that it promotes fitness and wellness in today's youth, said Leroy Minus, child, youth and school services youth sports assistant fitness director.
"This is one of those activities that we thought could reach out to children and get them involved," he said. "It teaches the children about the game, but it also encourages children to learn about fitness and keeping their bodies in shape.
"We want the children to not be afraid of conditioning, and learn that health and fitness are important," Minus continued. "We want to make sure and encourage the fitness aspect, but the main thing is for them to have fun. I think we had a good turnout for the competition."