DeKALB – For the second year in a row, Bob and Colleen Walker of Kirkland brought their children to Huskie Stadium on the campus of Northern Illinois University on Sunday to test their football skills at the Punt, Pass and Kick skills competition.
“We have six kids and four of them are here competing,” Bob Walker said. “They have been practicing for two weeks.”
In Punt, Pass and Kick, sponsored by the National Football League, boys and girls compete against their peers in the three fundamental football skills. Established in 1961, the program is the NFL’s oldest youth football program.
“Punt, Pass and Kick is an official NFL event that is free to 6- to15-year-olds,” said Rob Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, which hosts the event.
Forty youth competed in Sunday’s event, the program’s sixth in DeKalb. Boys and girls compete separately in five different age divisions. The 10 division winners from Sunday’s event will advance to the sectionals in Algonquin in October, and will compete for a chance to advance to the state finals in Soldier Field in Chicago in November.
Each competitor gets one chance to punt, pass and kick as far as he or she can, in as straight a line as possible. Distance from a center line is deducted from the length of the punt, pass or kick and the competitor’s final score is a net sum of the three events.
Michael Anderson, a graduate student at NIU in education, has volunteered at the event for four years.
“I started when I was an intern at the YMCA and I liked it a lot because of all the outreach programs they have there,” he said. “I love working with the kids.”