PITTSBURGH — When you first lay eyes on 11-year-old Abby Jo Northey of Brookville, her bright red hair and small stature would lead you to believe that she was preparing for just about anything other than the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition.
Then you sit back and watch Northey do her thing, and it all starts to make a lot of sense.
With an overwhelming sectional victory behind her, Northey has her sights set on Heinz Field Sunday as she will take part in the 10-and-11-year-old girls' division of the Pittsburgh Steelers Team Championship competition prior to the start of the Steelers' game against the Oakland Raiders.
Northey has been practicing with her uncle, Jim Northey, who was told about the competition at a Fourth of July party earlier this year.
"A guy saw her throw (at the party), and said that I had to get her in the Punt, Pass & Kick," Jim said. "He asked if I thought she could throw, and I said to him that he should see her kick."
Abby Jo can do it all, as the competition is designed to measure the total distance that the participant punts, passes and kicks a ball from a tee, with length and accuracy both taken into consideration.
As for the preparation for Sunday's competition, the Northeys have been on roughly a three-days-a-week, 45-minutes-a-day practice regimen, a system that has been in place since the Indiana contest.
Abby Jo has no trouble getting distance on her punts, and her accuracy on those kicks are consistently good.
Not to be outdone, her throwing arm is certainly a strength as well.
"(Uncle Jim) taught me how to point my shoulder and put my elbow in, and that's how I learned to throw," Abby Jo said.
But it's the 11-year-old's kicks from a tee that are something to behold, and Abby Jo is well-aware of just how strong of a kicker she is.
"Kicking off the tee (is my favorite)," Abby Jo said. "It's probably the one that goes the furthest."
For Jim, he likes Abby Jo's chances, and if there was one simple addition to the contest, Jim feels she would be a shoo-in for victory.
"If it were punt, pass, kick & run, there wouldn't be a girl who could touch her," Jim said.