Children punted, passed and kicked their way to victory last weekend.
Footballs were flying through the air at Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex this weekend as 70 boys and girls participated in the Youth Football Tri-Star Punt, Pass and Kick Competition.
The free event, hosted by Plant City Parks and Recreation and Optimist Club of Plant City, was open to all youth ages six to 15, who competed separately in each age group. Participants had one attempt at each- punt, pass, kick- and the total distance combined was their score.
It may have been a friendly competition but Elizabeth Unsworth and Gregorio Ibarra, both fourth grade students at Cork Elementary, were both in it to win it.
Unsworth, a gymnast, did, after all, win her age category last year and wanted to be a two-time winner. “I like trying a lot of different things and I wanted to try my best and try to win,” she said. “I was practicing whenever I got home from gymnastics and tumbling and after I got done with my homework I’d practice.”
For Unsworth, who also participates in soccer, flag football and cheerleading, punting was her favorite part of the competition. “I didn’t have to hold the ball, I was able to kick it off the tee,” she said. After competing in all three events, she waited for the results to be announced. “I was nervous because I thought I didn’t kick it as far as the other girls did,” said Unsworth. “When they called my name I walked up to the front and got my trophy, I was so happy.”
While Unsworth became a two-time champ, her cousin, Gregorio Ibarra, who’s played football for the Dover Patriots, tried to snag a win for the first time. “This was my second time competing so I beforehand I practiced kicking, throwing, punting and a few other drills I learned while playing for the Patriots,” he said.
He was ecstatic when his name was called as a first place winner in his age category. “It was my first time winning and I was shocked because last year I didn’t win,” he said. His trophy is being proudly displayed in the family’s living room.
For Special Events Coordinator Ivanna Ibarra, the event allowed the kids to show off their football skills. “It always amazes me the smiles the kids get when we call their name for an award,” she said. “I mean, it’s a lot of pressure since you only have one shot at each skills (punt, pass, kick), but they still give it everything they got and enjoy themselves.”
She is also grateful for help from a wonderful sponsor. “We couldn’t do this event without assistance from the Optimist Club of Plant City,” she said.
|Emma Ramirez 60’ 2”|
|12-13||Ryann Wade 133’ 3”||Wilaya Adam 52’ 10”||n/a|
|14-15||Bryanna Shelton 122’ 8”||n/a||n/a|
|Siler Gideons 183’ 1”|