Football isn’t just for the boys.
One 9-year old Fredericksburg girl is on the cusp of sharing the field with pro football’s best.
Ellie Seracen has competed in the NFL-sanctioned Punt, Pass & Kick competition for two years now, dominating at each level, will find out on Dec. 19 whether or not she earns a trip NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando to compete in the PP&K National Championships.
The competition starts at the local level, moves on to the state or sectionals and then the national level.
“Ellie competed last year and she won locally and in San Antonio and we went to Houston where she took fourth place,” her mother Kristina Seracen said.
Long way to the top
At each event, there are certain qualifications and scoring.
“If you mess up, you don’t get a second try,” Ellie said.
According to the NFL PP &K official website, participants are allowed one punt, one pass, and one kick only. Scores are based on distance and accuracy.
For example, if Ellie kicks the ball 100 feet but it’s 30 feet from the measuring line, she earns a score of 70. The total score is a culmination of all three events.
“There was a young lady last year where the ball literally went a few feet and that was it,” Kristina said.
Ellie, who is also active in soccer, has found that the kick is the most challenging part.
“The kick is the hardest even though I play soccer,” Ellie said. “I use the lines on the soccer field to practice kicking along a line.”
It’s a family affair
Through this experience, each member of the family has taken away something different.
“I learned that it’s fun and I learned how to punt differently,” Ellie said. “They have shown me different ways to punt and they have worked.”
“I think we learned that its more relaxed and even though there are more stakes, we have learned to encourage and not be so loud and crazy,” her mother Gina Seracen said.
“Because it’s a competitive thing, I think it’s fun to have that competition and I hope that she continues to do athletics and handle the competition and the pressure,” Kristina said.
Ellie’s older brother Asher Seracen has acted as coach along with her parents, offering advice and different techniques.
Ellie thinks of her brother often as she steps up to the line.
“I look at the line and I think of my brother and how he can punt far and I think about where I need to hit the ball on my foot,” Ellie said.
In the pass category, her methods are similar.
“Asher told me that where you point the point of the ball that is where it’s going to go and so far, that has worked,” Ellie said. “I take a step back, hold the ball along the threads and step forward and throw, making sure my eyes go up and out towards the line.”
Asher and Ellie spend their time outside in the mornings right before the competition.
“He practices with her a lot before school and acts as the technical advisor,” her mother Gina said.
“She has definitely gotten better,” Asher added.
For her brother, it’s all about the bragging rights.
“At school I see that my sister is awesome and then I see her do this and I get to brag on her more,” Asher said.