Keep an eye on this Redland 9-year-old
Tune in to CBS at 10 a.m. Sunday
OREGON CITY - Take note of the name 'Cierra Walker.'
It's a name local sports fans are going to hear a lot over the next several years.
Cierra is a fourth grader at Redland Elementary School and her classmates know about her. She's been the sought-after quarterback at intramural flag football games played at the school.
She's the most popular quarterback at intramural games simply because she throws the football a lot better than her male classmates. Her passes are long and they are accurate. She's the quarterback that throws for touchdowns.
Oregon City News and Clackamas Review readers may get the opportunity to see Cierra in action this Sunday. Tune to the NFL American Football Conference playoff game on CBS.
During a break in the game there'll be an exhibition featuring the national age-group winners in the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick Championships.
Cierra has reached the national finals, which feature the top competitors from around the nation. She is among four finalists in the 8-9 girls division.
The road to the final has been a long one, although Cierra has had little competition.
She first finished on top at a local competition, which advanced her to a sectional competition, where she also won handily.
Her score from the sectional was compared with the scores of competitors from more than 40 other sectionals held in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. It was the best for her age division, and she advanced to the Seattle Seahawks Punt, Pass and Kick Team Championship, held before a Seahawks game with the Arizona Cardinals in mid-December.
As a winner in Seattle, Cierra just missed a 30-yard field goal during an exhibition held at halftime of the Seahawks game.
'It came up just short,' said Cierra's dad, Cliff Walker, who says Cierra has split the uprights from 25 yards out during practices on the synthetic turf at Gladstone High School.
The Punt, Pass and Kick Competition is scored by measuring a pass, punt and place kick for distance and for accuracy. Distance is deducted for throws that are off-line.
Cierra's top score to date was 203, which she earned at the sectionals.
Thirty-two Punt, Pass and Kick Team Championships were held at NFL games in December. Cierra's score of 184 ranked her third in the nation for her age division. The top score for 8-9 girls was 195, recorded by Klilne Mifflinburg or Philadelphia, Pa.
Cierra plans to win at the nationals, which are scheduled in Indianapolis on Saturday. And she's got a focus and determination that could get her there.
Asked what was the key to winning in Punt, Pass and Kick, the 9-year-old Redland youth said, 'Keep your eye on the ball, and concentrate.'
Asked what she liked best about the Punt, Pass and Kick Competition to date, she said, 'practicing.'
Cierra was at Gladstone High School last Saturday, practicing in a cold, cold rain - without complaint.
Cierra, who throws left-handed and kicks with her right foot, also excels in softball and in basketball. She's a pitcher in softball, and she's already practicing for the next season.
Although Cierra doesn't expect to play football in high school, she plans to continue to play the sport for as long as she can. And she plans to continue entering the Punt, Pass and Kick Competition through age 15.
Her goals in softball and basketball?
'In basketball, I want to make as many baskets as the Trail Blazers…
'In softball, I want to make a record for strikeouts.'
Cierra has good genes. Her mom, Tami [Bannick] Walker, played for Oregon City High School when the Pioneers first began to establish themselves as a girls basketball powerhouse. A 1984 graduate, she played for the team that placed fourth at state in 1983.
Cierra isn't the only local participant who did well in the 2007-08 Punt, Pass and Kick Competition.
Oregon City High School sophomore Taylor Belmont won the Seahawks Team Championship in the 14-15 girls division. Her mark at the Team Championships ranked her fifth in the nation in her age division, one spot short of advancing to the national finals. Belmont's score of 284 was just 12 feet short of making the nationals.
Catelyn Preston of Redland placed second in the 12-13 girls division of the Seahawks Team Championships; Landon Martinez of Oregon City placed third in the 14-15 boys division.