From The World Of Parks & Recreation
By Doug Comer
I have been quoted many times saying that “we just do not throw a ball out on the field and let the kids go play.” Harrison County Parks and Recreation has in some form reinvented the wheel by mixing recreation and education, thus resulting in year-round activities…so now we prepare for another enrichment year, along with the scheduling of our busy winter and spring sports schedule.
So, this September I am going to have to eat some crow concerning my quote as the Recreation Department is finalizing the details of a local qualifier for the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick program. The event, which has always been free to participate, is slated for the 17th at 9:00 am at the Summit Park Recreation Complex on the middle field.
It is on that day where….YES, we will be throwing a ball out on the field for the kids as they will try to earn a spot at the regional level in Pennsylvania later in the year.
“Just as always, this is a free event for all children in the area between the ages of 6 to 15 years old,” said Jack Cann, Recreation Specialist. “There will be boys and a girls division and the winners in each division will advance to the regional round. We have had a ton of success on both the region and the team level and we even had a few advance to the national finals.”
The Summit Park Recreation Complex has played host to Punt, Pass and Kick competitions for years and with the availability of the middle field for the event, there will be plenty of seating and parking, as well as a good view of the competition. The field, mostly used for softball, soccer and special Olympic activities, is generally smooth, allowing scoring to not be hampered by the “bad breaks” caused by imperfections with the field.
“The field is generally in pretty good shape. Now, we cannot control the weather or the wetness of the conditions, but as far as smoothness of the field, field number 2 is the best of the bunch. Also, because of its location, there is plenty of visibility for spectators to see how their child faired,” said Cann.
The NFL has some stern rules for the event and the most important one is that kids are not allowed to compete wearing any form of football shoe that will give them an edge over the fellow competitors. Sneaker, kicks, sleds or tennis shoes (whatever the kids are calling them nowadays) are only allowed for play. And, of course, parents or guardians must accompany their child to the competition. December 31st of this year is the cutoff date for those who fall under the 15 years of age.
Scoring of the three categories is pretty simple. There is a straight line drawn on the field and the players will start at the beginning of that line and proceed to Punt, Pass and Kick their way to a total score. Now, while distance is definitely a factor, accuracy weighs heavy in the scoring as well as Cann explains.
“While you must maximize your distance with each of the three components to the competition you must be accurate as well. We have two measurements we make when getting a score. The first is the distance the ball traveled and secondly, how far off line the ball landed. We take the distance the ball flew, but then we have to subtract the distance from the center line to where the ball landed in order to get an accurate score. For example, your kick travelled 80-feet but you were 20-feet to the left or the right of the center line so your score would be 60. This scoring is done for all three categories.”
Again, this is a free competition and open to all kids between the ages of 6-15 who live in Harrison and surrounding counties. The event is partnered with the Knights of Columbus local #872 and we hope to equal the participation from a year ago as roughly 50 kids competed for the right to represent the Pittsburgh Steelers as regional champion.
For more information, please contact Jack Cann at 304-423-7800.