By Alisha McDarris
MARTIN COUNTY -- One young local athlete punted, passed and kicked her way to Denver last weekend where she not only got to compete with kids from all over the country, but also got to watch an NFL game in Denver's Mile High Stadium.
Dakota Moberg, a 7 year-old second grade student, attends Citrus Grove Elementary, a school that hosts the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition every year.
PPK is a national competition to test the skills of boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15. Each child competes against others in their age division to see who can punt, pass and kick the farthest.
Dakota, a soccer player, took first place in the local competition, which allowed her to advance to the regional competition where she also placed first.
From there she qualified for the Miami Dolphins PPK Team Championships, which were held Dec. 15 during the Dolphins versus Patriots game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. She scored a combined distance score of 121- feet, earning her first place once again and the chance to compete in the national contest.
"I felt awesome," Dakota said when her win was announced at halftime in Miami. "I can't believe I won."
Her parents accompanied her to Denver last weekend to see her compete one more time. She even got to go shopping beforehand for a scarf and hat and one pair of sparkly silver boots.
She practiced often in the backyard with her family, brushing up on her skills and taking advice like "don't be distracted" and "kick really hard" from her two older sisters who have both participated in the competition in the past, though neither made it as far as Dakota.
Her physical education teacher also chimed in with some encouragement. According to Dakota he advised her to "kick it out of the stadium."
She competed with 40 other students from across the country, four in her age group, and even got to throw a pass on the field at Mile High Stadium before the Broncos versus Chargers game.
Dakota was proud to have done her best, taking home third place in her age group with a combined punt, pass and kick distance of 116- feet, 11 inches.
"My wife and I couldn't be prouder," said Dakota's father, Josh Moberg.
But her favorite part of the weekend wasn't the football or the thrill of victory; it was the friends she made and the snow she got to see for the very first time.
Dakota plans on competing again next year, but in the meantime, she'll be busy on the soccer field with her sisters.