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Medeiros student heads to fifth national football skills competition
Mya Sanchez pic1
Turlocks Mya Sanchez will advance to the National Football League's Punt, Pass and Kick National Championships for the fifth time on Sunday, after she won the 10-11 year old division for Northern California. - photo by Photo Contributed

Mya Sanchez is an expert at punting, passing and kicking a football. The Medeiros student will be making her fifth appearance on Sunday at the National level of the National Football League's  Punt, Pass and Kick Championships after winning the 10-11 year old division in Sacramento.

Sanchez represented the Sacramento/Northern California Section and defeated the winners of the Central California (Fresno/Monterey), Bay Area, Nevada and Utah sections for the opportunity to compete against 40 young athletes from across the United States at the PPK finals in Indianapolis during Sunday’s game between the Colts and Tennessee Titans.

“I’d like to thank Aimee Hendrix and Justin Woodbridge for organizing the local competition and giving me a chance to compete,” said Sanchez. “I’d like to also than Becky McDaniel and Ray Reyes for organizing the Sectional and Team competitions. I’d also like to thank my dad for coaching me and my family for supporting me.”

Sanchez's finals run started at a PPK competition held at Medeiros Elementary School with over 250 participants. Her score of 241.0 was good enough to advance into Sections to compete against all the other Section winners and good enough to beat the boys 12-13 year old group.

Sanchez is also the first female from the area to accomplish such a feat.

“I like competing in all sports but in PPK, it allows us the girls to show our football skills,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez' Sections score of 226 feet, 8 inches was good enough to win her 5th consecutive NFL PPK Championship — three with the 49ers and two with the Raiders (Medeiros rotates between the teams each year).

On Sunday, Sanchez will be taking on three others in the 10-11 age category after an impressive year for the Turlock native.

“Just being on the field during an NFL game for the last five years has been exciting,” said Sanchez. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really nice people from around our area, including several NFL players and coaches.”

During PPK, all participants launch two punts, two passes and two kicks with scores based on distance and accuracy. The best score from each activity is tabulated to determine the athlete’s total score.

Competitors advance to the national finals through local, sectional and team championship competitions held throughout the NFL regular season.

The top four scorers in each age group from across the country qualified as national finalists.

NFL Punt, Pass & Kick, which began in 1961, will also be celebrating its 54th anniversary. It is one of the nation’s largest grassroots sports skills competitions. NFL stars – including Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Dan Marino – competed in the Punt, Pass & Kick program as youngsters.

Sanchez is also good friends with fellow Turlock footballer Colin Kaepernick, who sponsored Mya and her family to be able to attend the game. Sanchez will compete against the representatives from the Bears, Titans and Broncos PPK competitions.

“Colin just said he was going to sponsor our family so we can all go to Indy,” said Mya’s father Phil. “He has been a huge supporter of Mya and other kids from our community and wants to send the entire family there. This is the third year in a row that Colin has sponsored our family. He’s given us tickets to the games that she has participated in and all accommodations for the trip to Indianapolis.”

The competition will take place during the halftime break at the Indianapolis Colts v. Tennessee Titans game at the Lucas Oil Stadium at 10 a.m. Sunday.