FORT DRUM, NY -- Sunday was a big day for one Fort Drum youngster. That was the day 9-year-old Alex Geraci had a chance to show his football skills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, the same place where the Bills played a game against the New York Jets.
Alex was with his Family in Buffalo competing in the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick program, now in its 50th year.
The NFL Punt, Pass and Kick program is a national skills competition for boys and girls ages 6-15 to compete separately against their peers. Established in 1961, the PPK program is the oldest NFL youth football program in existence. It allows girls and boys in five separate age divisions to compete against each other in punting, passing and place-kicking in a fun and engaging forum.
Alex, son of Caroline and Maj. Joseph Geraci, a member of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, began playing football last year while the Family lived at West Point. He is currently a member of the Fort Drum Child, Youth and School Services Sports program's Mountaineers Mighty Mites.
After winning his division at the Fort Drum PPK competition in August, Alex moved on to the Sectional PPK competition round held Oct. 16 in Liverpool, where he competed against other upstate New York youths ages 8 to 9 and again won in his age division. Alex's win in Liverpool qualified him for the big Regional PPK face-off in Buffalo on Sunday.
Before the competition in Buffalo, Alex's dad advised him, "Don't stress out. Just have fun in Buffalo, and let's see what happens." Alex's older brother, Michael, also plays football, and he helped to spark Alex's interest in the sport.
"My wife and I are so proud of all that Alex has accomplished, and (we) are happy to support both of our boys' athletic talents," Geraci said.
That kind of Family support really paid off for Alex when he came in second in his division at the Buffalo Regional PPK completion. The top four winners in each age division were awarded an opportunity to participate in a PPK exhibition before the Buffalo Bills versus New York Jets game.
The winners also were invited to meet the NFL players and line up to form a corridor for the players to run through at the beginning of that game. Alex had his big day of playing a game he loves and having a great time where the pros play.
What is next for Alex? No one knows, but perhaps the name Geraci will appear on the back of an NFL jersey some day.
For now, he will take his dad's advice and "Just have fun."
For more information regard-ing participation in CYS Services Youth Sports programs on Fort Drum, call 772-6718.