NEWBERRY COUNTY — Now in its fourth consecutive year following a nearly 15-year hiatus, Newberry County’s annual Punt, Pass & Kick competition will be held Sept. 17 at Newberry College’s Setzler Field.
The free competition is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 15 (divided into age groups) and organizers ask that participants register by Sept. 14.
There’s an 8 a.m. start time so participants are encouraged to arrive at 7:45 a.m. to get registered.
Sponsored by the NFL, PP&K events are held all around the country and winners of the local competition will advance to the sectionals whose winners will then have the opportunity to compete on the Carolina Panthers’ practice field against athletes from all across the Southeast.
Additionally the participant and one other person will receive a ticket to actually attend a Panthers’ game.
“We had two last year that advanced to the Panthers game,” said Collin Shealy of Newberry parks and recreation. “It’s a pretty neat experience. They take them down on the field and all that good stuff.”
The rules for competition are the same at all levels. Each child gets exactly one opportunity to pass, punt and kick a football as far as they can — longest wins.
In addition to the NFL, PP&K is sponsored by the city, Newberry FCA and the Newberry County Touchdown Club.
Organizers said there is a strict no cleats policy so participants should wear tennis shoes,
The NFL describes PP&K as their oldest grassroots initiative. Newberry County participated for many years until 1999.
“There were some people here in the county who wanted to get it going again so we got together with a couple of organizations and we started it back up in 2013,” Shealy said.
That year Shealy guessed there were between 40 and 50 participants with that number growing last year to around 80.
“This year we’d like to get it up over 100 if we can. It’s definitely growing,” he said.
Shealy actually remembers competing in the event himself in the 1990’s around the age of 10.
He said he was small and couldn’t move the ball too far but even still said “it was a blast.”
“I think one year I did it I won third place,” he said. “It was fun.”
Shealy said it’s a good event because it’s only one day so there’s no season-long commitment.
“It gives people that may not want to do a full football season, but they have some skills, a chance to get out there and just have fun with it,” he said.
Interested parties can register at www.nflppk.com or by visiting Newberry parks and recreation at 1323 College St.