Buchanan girl won third state title in NFL competition

Published 11:48 am Tuesday, January 4, 2005

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Jayme O'Bryant was always athletic, but when it came to sports, she was jealous of her brother.
The eighth-grader at Buchanan Middle School plays volleyball, basketball and softball, but there was one sports she longed to play - football. As an 8-year-old, Jayme watched her brother Jason play Rocket football and saw her dad, John, coaching his team.
Because of that desire to get into football, Jayme tried her hand at the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition, a program that allows 8-15 year olds to compete against their peers in the three areas. The contestants see how far they can throw a football, punt it and kick it from a tee.
The total distances from the three categories at added together and the kid with the highest total is the winner.
Jayme entered her first Punt, Pass and Kick contest in 2000 competing in the 9-year-old girls division. She entered it for fun, but found out she had some skill.
Jayme won the Michigan state title that year, then went on to win two more state championships, the most recent coming this past year. She won in 2002 as an 11-year-old and in 2004 as a 13-year-old. Her combined total this year was 271 feet and seven inches.
Her three state titles are a record for Michigan. Jayme also finished in second place in 2001 and in fourth place in 2003. Her five appearances at the state level are the second most.
Rachel Dennison of Sturgis holds the records for most appearances in the state finals with six. Jayme still has two more years that she's eligible to compete in the Punt, Pass and Kick, so very well might break that mark.
Jayme had done so well in the NFL's competition that she decided to take a shot at the real thing. So, in 2003, Jayme played for Buchanan Middle School's seventh-grade football team. Fittingly, she was the team's punter.
She said it took the other players a little time to warm up to a girl on the team, but she had a good time. She said she'd like to keep playing, but that won't happen anytime soon.
For now, Jayme will stick with the Punt, Pass and Kick contest. Her father credits her success to her competitive drive and her willingness to do what it takes to win.
Jayme said she's going to keep participating in the Punt, Pass and Kick until she is no longer eligible. She said its fun, and she likes going to the state finals, which are held in Detroit's Ford Field during halftime of a Lions game.
Having to perform in front of thousands of people in the finals might make any other 13-year-old nervous, but not Jayme.
Despite her success in football, Jayme said softball is her favorite sport because she's played it the longest. In fact, her goal for her athletic career has nothing to do with football.