News Kick Off Preseason

Idaho Press Tribune 7 Jun 2002

Optimists kick off preseason

Youth football: League starts season with Punt, Pass and Kick competition

Hattie James - IPT
NAMPA -- The Nampa Optimists started the football preseason in classic style Thursday with their Punt, Pass and Kick contest at Lakeview Park.

"This is our third annual," Optimist football director Ken Wilson said. "And this was a pretty big turnout."

The competition is the Optimist program’s biggest fund raiser. Wilson estimates it has brought in about $4,000 each year. "And that’s about half of what we spend a weekend with fields and referees," Wilson said.

The competition lasted from 5:30 to 8 p.m., with boys and girls from ages 8 to 15 competing. "The winners head to the sectional (competition)," Wilson said. "Then they have a chance to compete at regionals and then nationals." The regional competition will be held at a Seattle Seahawks game and the national competition is annually staged at the Super Bowl and shown during that game’s coverage.

Competitors went through the motions of punts, passes and kicks Thursday and then got to settle in for an evening of play at the park while their parents got treated to dinner by the Outback and music by a local band.

"The Outback is doing this for free," Wilson said, "and all the proceeds go to our program."

The Boise Xtreme, a women’s professional football team, was out in full force to help the competitors.
Wilson said there were quite a few girls at the competition Thursday. "We have some signed up for tackle and flag this year," he said.

One girl competing, Dustie Wilson, actually will be a cheerleader this fall. She cheers for brother Rusty’s team and he got her started on the punt, pass and kick.

"It was awesome," Dustie, 12, said of her first competition. "I did good. I use the tee better than throwing or kicking." Dustie said her 10-year old brother, who plays for the Vikings, wanted some help practicing. "He said, ‘Come on, help me practice,’ -- Dustie said.

While Dustie Wilson likes kicking better, a set of twins at the competition preferred the punt.

"I can kick further," Brady Doramus said.

His brother, Cody, likes the punt because it’s a little easier. "It’s easier to drop kick," he said.

The 9-year old twins will be playing their first year of tackle football this fall and their dad, Randy, will be their coach. They’ve competed in the Punt, Pass and Kick since its local inception.

The season will start in August, when the Optimist Jamboree will take place at Boise State’s Bronco Stadium.

"That’s basically a weigh-in," Ken Wilson said. "There’s 130-140 teams there and our league will have between 22-25, maybe up to 27 teams and we’ve been averaging 18-22 players per team."

The players will have new fields this year, with the Optimists building a complex behind Birch Elementary School. "We have goal posts and we poured concrete bleachers," Wilson said.
Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune
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