The football action started early this morning at FedExField, as the Redskins held early morning tryouts of 6-to-15-year-olds this morning, seeing who had the strongest arms and legs in Redskins Nation.
Talk about early scouting. Not many football prospects have their moms and dads drive them to the tryout.
The annual NFL Play 60 “Punt, Pass & Kick” competition was held at midfield this morning, with local competition winners from as far as eight hours away making the trip to Washington.
Kaylen Cales, 7, and Ashten Hinkle, 13, are actually sisters from Capron, Va., and competed today in their respective age groups. This is Ashten’s fourth year competing, and according to her proud poppa, she’s won it twice.
“Ashten probably didn’t perform as well as I thought she was, but that’s how it goes,” he said with a smile and a shrug. “Throwing and punting are Ashten’s best, but her ball didn’t have the really tight spiral today. At sectionals, she threw is 99.9 feet, but today was something like 70.”
“She could really be good at this if she tried,” he said. “A couple weeks beforehand, she’ll go out and throw the ball around, but her best sport is softball.”
Dad said that this is sister Kaylen’s first time competing, but like any younger sibling, has been dragged along to these events for years. “Kaylen, she’s so excited,” he said with a grin. “She saw big sister do it for the last couple years. Throwing is probably her best, and I think she performed well. We might be surprised.”
The kids were also joined by greatness, as former Redskins receiver Gary Clark was on hand to chat with the athletes and sign footballs as prizes.
If only the athletes knew who he was.
“No, they have clue whatsoever who I am,” he said. “They don’t know, but they figured it out when you point to it. At the end of the day they are here to compete. They are concentrated, they are kind of like, ‘All of you all need to be quiet so we can punt, pass, and kick.’”
At least he’s not offended.
“What I liked about it most was that when I grew up doing punt, pass, and kick it was all boys, and now you have boys and girls competing,” he said. “I love that aspect. A lot of girls competed extremely well. we are finally realizing more and more that sport is just a sport, for boys and girls to play at the same level quite honestly. It wasn’t that way when I was growing up, mainly because of stupidity, on the males’ part.”
“I’m just glad to see that we are with the times so to speak,” he continued. “There were girls in my neighborhood who were faster than me, the whole nine yards.”
Faster than a young Gary Clark? That’s really saying something.
“I just enjoy that sparkle in their eye when they’re out there doing what they love to do,” he said. It’s just about the game and I enjoy watching that in a kid–it’s the best part. The kids are just competing to have fun, and competing to win still to0–they want to win, no doubt about it–but they are happy to here to.”
And what’s one thing that Clark would change about the program? Add in something that he was good at.
“I think they should have had punt, pass, kick, and catch. They just had the punt, pass, and kick and I was no good at the punting, passing or the kicking.”
“It was still fun to compete. I’m sure I cried when I lost.”
Good thing he won a lot in the pros.