As one of the nation’s best Punt, Pass and Kick participants, Brynna Nixon found herself competing on the national stage last week – and winning.
The almost-14-year-old from Bonney Lake was one of just 40 young people from around the country invited to Orlando, Fla., for the Jan. 27 finals of the national PP&K contest. When all the footballs had been kicked and thrown, Brynna stood alone as the girls 13-14 national champion.
The young football fan had shown her skills by winning her 13-14 age group at both the local and sectional levels, earning a slot in a regional competition in Seattle. There, winners from a four-state area came together.
The prestigious Punt, Pass and Kick program is sponsored by the National Football League and each of its 32 teams identifies regional winners. Brynna won her division at regionals, the “team championships” – earning tickets to a Seahawks game for her and her mother – then waited to see if she qualified for the national finals.
From throughout the nation, the top four boys and girls in each of five divisions qualified for last weekend’s competition in Orlando, held in conjunction with the NFL’s Pro Bowl. When results from each of the 32 regions were tallied, Brynna was locked is at No. 4 and earned her Florida trip. Competition was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports site at Walt Disney World.
She and her parents, Jason and Shelli, flew from Seattle to Orlando Thursday.
Success is nothing new for Brynna, who has lined up against boys as a quarterback in a junior league and will compete this spring at the middle school level (football is a spring sport for eighth-graders).
“Football is her passion,” her father said, adding that Brynna has every intention of turning out in the fall for her high school team.
A year ago, Brynna was a sectional participant, but fell shy of the national finals.
The nationwide PP&K program allows kids to test their abilities against others their age. Their are separate categories for boys and girls, who compete in five age brackets (6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15).
At early levels, participants are allowed one punt, one pass and one kick. The total distance is measured, then deductions are made for every foot the ball strays from a center line. At nationals, each participant gets two chances in each event.
With more than 4 million boys and girls taking part, the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick competition is one of the world’s largest youth sports programs.