For 11-year-old Eryn Puett, the experience of competing in an NFL stadium is becoming a bit of a yearly tradition.
Competing in her third national Punt, Pass and Kick competition last Saturday, Puett set her sights on not only winning her age bracket, but also the record in each scoring category.
Puett walked away with the title in the 10-11 year-old division, which was held at Denver’s Mile High Stadium the day before the Broncos hosted the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional playoff game. Puett compiled a total distance of 356 feet, nine inches in her event, which outpaced her closest competitor by 48 feet.
A native of Columbia, Missouri, Puett has represented the Rams in each of her three national PPK appearances. Puett competed last year in the same age bracket, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, finishing third. She won the competition two years ago as a nine-year-old at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Puett’s mother, Tammy, attributed her daughter’s success not only to her athleticism, but also to her tireless work ethic.
“She’s just a very competitive kid,” Tammy Puett said. “Her goal for the weekend was to break the national record. That was her goal, and she succeeded in meeting it. She works really hard at what she does. She and her dad have spent many hours in front of our house practicing, and it’s very rewarding to see all of her hard work paying off.”
Puett’s punt and her pass in Denver measured 112 feet, and her kickoff landed a whopping 134 feet from the tee. All three measurements were records for the 10-11 age bracket. Punt, Pass and Kick is just one of many athletic ventures that Puett competes in. She also runs track and plays soccer, which has likely contributed to her kicking prowess.
The Punt, Pass and Kick program includes competitions from ages 6-14, and is part of the NFL’s PLAY 60 campaign designed to encourage youth to live an active lifestyle. The national finalists are selected through local competitions sponsored by NFL teams, and compete during the divisional playoff round. Puett was the lone Rams representative among the 40 finalists.
With three years’ worth of competitions with the PPK finals, the Puett family has become accustomed to the experience, and has begun to see a few familiar faces among competitors on the PPK circuit. While that familiarity may help in preparation a bit, the challenge of competing among the nation’s best could never become routine.
“I don’t know if the nerves ever really go away,” Tammy Puett said. “You’re competing with the best of the best.”
With a record-breaking performance in Denver, the title of ‘the best’ seems to suit Eryn Puett just fine.