FUN and ENJOYMENT! Those are the reasons why many youngsters participate in the Punt, Pass & Kick program. FULFILLMENT and COMMITED! Those are the reasons why our staff continues to volunteer their time and dedication to the program.
As we enter year 24 for the Michigan state-wide PPK program, many states across the country, including Michigan, are encountering challenges due to the economy. Despite this, one thing remains – the smiles on the faces of the PPK youngsters who look forward to and compete in the PPK program.
Punt, Pass & Kick was once a national program sponsored and conducted by an automobile company; the company dropped the progeam in the mid-to-late 1970’s due to economic difficulties in the auto industry. Local parks and recreation/community education departments began to support the Punt, Pass & Kick program in Michigan in 1981, , and an increasing number beganto offer the free program for youngsters.
In 1987, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and the Detroit Lions joined forces to revitalize the Punt, Pass & Kick competition statewide;32 communities participated that year, up from only three in 1981. At the time, Michigan was believed to be the only state in the country to offer the Punt, Pass & Kick competition on a statewide basis. The Parks and Recreation associations in Illinois, Indiana, (and Ohio, started their own programs in 1989-1990, and in 1990, Michigan hosted a Midwest Punt, Pass & Kick competition the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan.
Tim Pendell, Senior Director of Community Affairs for the Detroit Lions, believed that the program should be expanded even further, and brought the idea to the NFL, which was very receptive to the idea of expansion. In 1991, I visited NFL headquarters to review our Michigan PPK program with NFL officials. Later that year, a test market program was established based on our Michigan program; and eventually a national program was instituted in 1992. If it was not for Tim Pendell, we may not be where we are today with the PPK program!
Other milestone events:
- 1996 was the first year that separate divisions were offered for boys and girls.
- 1998 was the first year that the program was offered in schools.
- 2010 will be the 19th year that the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick program will be conducted in all National Football League markets
In Michigan, our dedicated staff of volunteers continues to look forward to the team championship finals each year. Some of our staff has worked all 24 years of the state finals, and their dedication and commitment ensures that the program goes smoothly each year!
It is hard to deny our excitement at seeing the smiles on the faces of the participants whether at the local level,.sectional level,or the team championship. In Michigan, we take pride in offering a quality event at all levels. At the team championship, for example, we strive to create an event to remember. Participants and their families are invited to enjoy the weekend, beginning on Saturday with a hotel check-in and trip to the hotel pool. Rain or shine, participants can be seen on the grounds of the hotel practicing for the upcoming competition and socializing with other teams. Even the parents enjoy each other’s company. .Despite the competitive aspect, it is important that we continue to stress the “fun” of the weekend.
The reason that I continue to stay involved with PPK is for the kids! I have been working in the Parks and Recreation field for more than 32 years full-time and enjoy seeing the PPK participants have fun in a healthy sports competition. I participated in the program when I was young (as did my children), and even though I never made it past the second level of competition, it was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. We hope each participant feels the same way.
PPK is something our staff, the participants, and I LOVE to do….We look forward to our continued outstanding relationship with the NFL and the Detroit Lions!