PAL contest helps kids get a 'Punt, Pass & Kick' out of fall
The trials at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, organized Saturday by Scott Sudora, a member of the PAL Board of Directors and local police officer, are designed to not only see who's "got skills" in terms of football punting, passing and kicking, but also to give youngsters 6 to 15 years old a productive activity.
Over a two-hour period, the young participants trickled in, although several looked as though they would have been happier sleeping in after nearly a week full of classes. But they snapped out of that school daze and stepped up to the challenges of the competition.
Sudora said the session was an opportunity for young people to "check their skills, get them outside, compete against other local kids and get a chance to compete on a regional level if they perform well."
Sudora explained that kids are given several tries to perform their best in each category. Distances and accuracy are recorded by volunteers working with Sudora. The top performers are identified then compete on a regional level, a session typically held at Giants Stadium in Rutherford, N.J. The top regional performers then advance to a national competition, which is held at a professional football playoff game.
Jessica Summers, a Fairfield parent who had brought her son David, 12, and John, 10, to the trials, praised the competition and PAL's involvement in the community.
"PAL is a great program," she said. "It offers the youth of Fairfield opportunities to participate in a variety of different sports. Punt, Pass & Kick is just one of the many phenomenal opportunities. Everyone should come out. My son David has been playing football (on the Wildcats team with the Fairfield Youth Football League) since third grade. He really loves it and PAL is helping support and develop his skills."
David's younger brother, John, has been wrestling in PAL's program for the past three years."
Scott Sudora's 15-year-old son Mike, a student at St. Joseph's High School in Trumbull, was a competitor Saturday.
"I was a cornerback with St. Joe's Cadets," Mike Sudora said. "I help my dad do set-up and breakdown for PAL events. This is a good opportunity for kids and a productive use of their time. Another of PAL's activities, the fishing derby, gets kids involved with fishing, which is a good hobby."
Josiah Wilson, a friend of Mike Sudora's, usually plays basketball and lacrosse. Mike encouraged him to try his hand at football. "It's a beautiful day and this seemed like a good thing to do," he said.
The competition didn't only attract boys. Jackie Soderlund, local artist Karl Soderlund's daughter, tried her hand. The 10-year-old Roger Ludlowe Middle School student said, "I like to throw the football, though I don't do it as a team sport. It's a nice morning for some exercise."
Jackie's friend and classmate Emily Calarco, 11, also enjoys football and plays sometimes with her dad. "I watch football on TV mostly," she said. "I think I'm a Patriots fan ... I love Tom Brady," the New England quarterback.
Jackie and Emily were accompanied by 10-year-old friend Emma Simonsen. "It's fun to throw the ball around, and I like to get tips on how to throw properly. I think I'm getting better," she said.