Vike's Ross Vies for Trip to Super Bowl
Union Pines freshman Tyler Ross recently participated in the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick Carolina Panthers Team Championship, claiming first place in the female 14-15-year-old division. The event featured the top finishers from North and South Carolina.
Ross, who was a starter this fall on the varsity volleyball team and is currently a member of the Lady Vikings varsity basketball squad, became involved in the event three years ago after her father saw an ad in The Pilot.
"My dad was looking through the sports pages when he came across the ad for PPK," she said. "It said that I could win Super Bowl tickets if I did well in every meet. So I was like, 'Sure,' because I had always dreamed of going to the Super Bowl with my dad because we both love football."
The competition took place at the Panthers' practice field in Charlotte before Carolina's Dec. 6 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only did Ross win her division, she was the top individual punter, passer and kicker in her entire age group.
During pregame, Ross was able to go down on the sidelines and watch the players warm up. Then during halftime, she got the chance to punt, pass and kick on the Panthers' game field.
"The experience was so great," she said. "Last year I got to go on the field, but since I did not finish in first place I could not get anywhere near the players. This year since I was the top winner, I got to go right up behind the NFL player benches.
"When we went on the field to perform at halftime, at first I was nervous. But when it came my turn, I was focused and very confident in myself. When I was performing, the only thing that was going through my head was, 'God, please don't let me shank my kick in front of the nation.'"
Ross feels her success in the competition stems from her participation in Optimist League youth football.
"This was my third year doing this, and I love the feeling of playing football," she said. "The passing is my favorite since I am pretty strong in my left arm from pitching for softball. Then it is my punt because I play around with my dad punting the football back and forth. My dad is also a pretty good teacher because he used to be a punter."
As a first-place winner, Ross will have her score submitted to the NFL office, and once all 32 teams have completed their championships, the winners will be ranked and the top four finishers nationwide in each age group will receive a trip to the national final taking place at an NFL playoff game in January. The final winners will be rewarded with a trip to the Super Bowl.
Contact F.W. Manning II at (910) 639-5481 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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