Lauren Guitriago, 7, always excelled at sports, so it was no surprise that the Jacob Gunther Elementary School second grader won the Team Championship of the National Football League's Punt, Pass and Kick (PPK) Program.
Guitriago won the competition at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Dec. 11. She was introduced as the winner to a crowd of football fans before the New York Jets defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It feels really good that I won first place," she said.
Her physical education teacher, Jim Mulvey, said Guitriago works very hard at any sport that she plays.
"She is an all-around athlete," he said. "She earned this."
The Punt, Pass and Kick Program is a national skills competition for boys and girls between the ages of six and 15 to compete separately against their peers. Established in 1961, the program is the oldest NFL youth football program. Each participant is allowed one punt, one pass and one placekick as part of his or her competition. Scores are based on both distance and accuracy.
Schools have the option to start a local competition of the program which can lead participants to the national finals. Mulvey has ran the local competition for 10 years.
"It's a fun way for kids to compete with other kids," he said. "We always try to work on our improvements."
After winning the local competition, Guitriago won the sectional competition at East Meadow High School against participants from elementary schools from all parts of Long Island.
She is now waiting to hear if her scores can place her in national championship against children from around the country.
"My dad said that if I get it, I can become famous," she smiled.
Mulvey said that Guitriago's determination makes her a role model to her classmates.
"She is a really good athlete and a great girl," he said. "Whatever she does, she tries her hardest."
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