For the first time in 2012, the Green Bay Packers Youth Football Camps offered opening-round competitions of the "NFL Punt, Pass & Kick" program. The addition to the annual summer camps throughout Wisconsin was the launching point for 13-year-old Jack Noffke to win the national championship in his age division.
Noffke, from New London, Wis., was named the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick national champion in the 12- to 13-year old boys group after a runaway victory. The finals were held at the Atlanta Falcons' training facility the day before the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, with all participants punting twice, throwing a pair of passes and adding two kicks. Scores were based on distance and accuracy.
His combined total of 385.9 feet topped the nearest competitor in his age group by over 92 feet. Noffke and the other five age group winners were honored at halftime of the Falcons' win over the Seahawks, and after the third quarter they were introduced to the national TV audience on FOX.
To get to the Punt, Pass & Kick (PP&K) National Finals, Noffke had advanced through three rounds of competition and was among the top four boys in his age group in the country. Two other area participants earned their way to the finals in Atlanta in their age groups. Ava Reuter from Chippewa Falls, Wis., (above, left) finished second among the 6- to 7-year-old girls, and Alayna Suprenand from Fon du Lac, Wis., (above, right) was the runner-up in the 8- to 9-year-old girls group.
Reuter's final score was 111 feet and Suprenand's total was 204.6 feet. All three competitors earned their way to the finals in Atlanta after winning their age divisions in the Packers' team championship competition in early December at the Don Hutson Center. More than three million youngsters nationwide participated this season, which was the 51st year of the free program.
Along with one guest each, Noffke, Reuter and Suprenand were provided airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the Falcons-Seahawks game. All 40 participants from the NFL PP&K National Finals threw a pass on the field during a halftime presentation.
During the competition at the Falcons' training facility on Saturday, Noffke met Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes, who was a teammate of Packers fullback John Kuhn at Shippensburg University. The highlight of the trip was the next day, when Noffke was presented with a customized NFL Punt, Pass & Kick helmet on the Georgia Dome turf as the award for his victory.
"It was fun to go on an actual NFL field," he said. "I felt like a player. Going in I felt like I had no chance of winning. I got to meet a lot of new people and made new friends from my age group."
Noffke has spent the last five years attending the Packers Youth Football Camps in Green Bay. The camps provide non-contact instruction for kids age 6-14 each summer throughout Wisconsin, and are led by professional coaches.
"I think the camp was a great benefit for Jack, because we've been emphasizing special teams over the years and it really helped for punting and kicking," said Keith VandenHeuvel, who has been the camp director in Green Bay for over a decade. He is also the defensive coordinator at Kaukauna High School, which is about 20 minutes southwest of Lambeau Field.
VandenHeuvel said the Punt, Pass & Kick competition was also a sharp way to close each of the camp's summer sessions.
"We made a big deal of it and the NFL sends official ribbons for the kids who come in first, second and third in each age group," he said. "We get a lot of kids who come back year after year to develop their skills, and Punt, Pass & Kick was something the parents were really excited about. Everyone applauded the winners. It's really a good addition to what we do. For Jack to win it all really is an amazing thing."
The Packers Youth Football Camps also feature supplemental instruction from former Packers such as John Anderson, Johnnie Gray, Bill Schroeder and others.
"The Packers congratulate Jack, Ava and Alayna on their excellent performances at the Punt, Pass and Kick finals," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. "We're proud of their accomplishments in going against the top competitors from around the country. They represented their communities very well."
For more information about the Green Bay Packers Youth Football Camps held across Wisconsin, click here.