Skye Turner, 15, did more than display her gridiron skills. After taking first place in both the opening round and sectionals, Turner advanced to the NFL Team Championship round of the PPK contest. That meant a chance to step onto an NFL field in front of thousands of fans.
Originally though, the idea to take part in the contest was not Turner’s own thought.
“My grandpa saw it in the newspaper and he pretty much made me do it,” Turner said. “He knows I’m really good at all of those things so he wanted me to do it.”
Having watched his granddaughter grow up playing sports, David Eizenhoefer knew she had a good chance at doing well in the competition.
“She’s been very athletic all her life, particularly when I’ve seen her throw a football,” Eizenhoefer said of his granddaughter. “She can throw any object a country mile. Whether it’s a rock or a softball or football, she can chuck it. Then I saw her punt a football with a beautiful spiral and thought she’d be good in the competition.”
Turner proved her grandfather’s hunch correct.
Taking the field at halftime of the Oakland Raiders home game against the Cleveland Browns, Turner stepped in front of 43, 641 fans and dominated her age group.
With each competitor getting one punt, one pass and one kick, and accuracy coming into play as off-the-mark attempts subtract distance from the final tally, Turner’s skills set the bar.
First, Turner netted a punt of 84-feet, 9-inches. Then she sent a pass 89-feet, 3-inches before topping her performance off with a kick of 77-feet, 11 inches. Her total score of 251-feet, 11 inches was enough to make her the champion of the girls 14-15 group. The McQueen High student was the only individual from the Reno-Sparks area to win her group.
“There were two other levels that I had to make it through and I took first place in all three. I thought it was really cool,” Turner said. “I’ve never done anything like that. It was just a cool experience. We got a football that says ‘First Place’ on it and we got a jersey that has the Raiders symbol and the Play 60 symbol on it and a t-shirt. That also was my first NFL game I got to go to and watch. It was really cool.”
Afterward, Turner and her mother, Kristen, called her grandfather to tell him the good news.
“They called me and gave me the results,” Eizenhoefer said. “She was really uplifted about it all. She was happy. It was a pretty fulfilling experience for her.”
Turner’s final results were just shy, 50 feet behind the final qualifier, of advancing her to the National Finals. Only the top four participants from each gender and age group makes it to the next round. Although she said she is content with the outcome, she believes she could have done better and made a run at the finals.
“I was kind of disappointed because I think my distances could have been better,” she said. “We played in the pouring down rain and it was really slippery, so I don’t think those distances were my best.”
Previous to the PPK competition, Turner said she didn’t have much football experience outside of flag football and playing catch with friends. If she has it her way though, the Oakland Coliseum won’t be the last football field she steps on.
“She tells me she’s going out for the McQueen football team this coming fall,” said Eizenhoefer. “She really wants to try out for split-end. She can catch very well and she’s determined to do it. She’ll give it a go.”