By Crystal Thompson
Nine-year-old Tyler Handley is no stranger to sports. With two parents working as college coaches, physical activity seems to be in the blood of this Punt, Pass, and Kick champion.
Handley took first place in the local Punt, Pass, and Kick competition held in Havre, qualifying him for the regional competition to be held in Minneapolis.
The Gatorade-sponsored Midwest Punt, Pass, and Kick contest was held in the Hubert H. Humprhey Metrodome on Nov. 18. The competition took place during halftime of the football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers. Handley came in fifth place in his age division.
Tyler's mother, Lisa Handley, said that she's sure Tyler would have placed higher had it not been for the nasty flu bug that he caught a day before the big competition. Tyler was disappointed that he could not be in top condition for the competition, according to his mother.
"He just felt really bad," Lisa said.
Lisa said that both she and her husband were very proud of Tyler's accomplishments. Lisa, who came down with a similar flu bug a few days after the competition, said that she was just amazed that Tyler even made it to the Metrodome.
"I was just proud of him for getting out of bed that day," Lisa said.
Tyler is a big football fan, she said , and that he watches football every Sunday and Monday with her and his father, Chris.
"He's a Vikings fan and a Broncos fan, so he can please both parents," she said.
Although Tyler was ill on the day of the regional competition, it was still a memorable experience. It was his first time attending a professional football game, and he had a front row seat. Lisa said that Tyler enjoyed sitting so close to the Vikings players, not to mention the cheerleaders.
Tyler wasn't the only Montanan unable to give his top performance at the competition, Big Sandy freshman running back Skylar Pearson was unable to do his best, given a sprained ankle he received at a Wednesday night open gym basketball game. The two young men had sympathy for each other's ailments, Lisa said, and congratulated each other on trying their hardest. Pearson ended up placing third in his division.
Six out of the 40 participants at the regional competition were from Montana. Other Montana competitors to place in Minneapolis were Lauren Montijo of Conrad, Andelyn Axtman of Fort Benton, and Steven Sanchez of Miles City.