Glasgow fourth grader Rance Rhoads comes across as shy when you first meet him. The shyness quickly fades away when you ask him about his recent trip to Denver as Rhoads finished third in the 8-9 year old age group in the annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition put on by the NFL.
Rhoads took part in the competition this year thanks in large part of his parents suggesting he should.
"My parents told me about [the competition]," Rhoads said. "Honestly, I thought I should try it."
Try he did and all the effort paid off in the end.
Rhoads and his dad Shane would go to the park regularly to practice. A left guard by trade, Rhoads admits that he has another interest when it comes to football.
"I love kicking the ball," Rhoads said.
Only seems fitting that a kid who loves to kick a football would enter the competition and place in the top three of his age group.
"We were excited and proud of him," Rance's mother Stacie Rhoads said. "He worked really hard, he doesn't just go out there to do it, he practiced a lot."
Rhoads' journey to Denver started here in Glasgow near the end of September.
"He competed in Glasgow and we were excited," said Stacie.
From there, Rhoads' next trip was to Miles City where the state competition took place. After Rance took the field and completed his punt, pass and kick for the competition, his parents knew that their son had done well.
"We had heard his scores and knew that nobody else had beat him," said Stacie.
The only problem was that officials initially awarded first place to someone else by mistake. Rance and his family made the trip back to Glasgow not sure what to think. It wasn't until they got home that the mistake made by the officials was corrected.
"We had to wait until that night when we got home to find out that he actually won that competition," said Stacie.
From there, Rance's scores were entered into the regional competition. The top four scores in each age bracket would then advance to Denver to compete and be recognized at halftime of a Denver Broncos game.
Rance's scores held up and he won the regionals and was off to Denver. There was a hitch though. Even though Rance had won and earned the privilege to go to Denver, the cost of getting out there fell on the shoulders of his parents.
"We had to pay for everything," said Stacie. "Denver provided us two tickets to the game and so we had to go buy a third."
It didn't take long for the Glasgow community to catch wind of Rance's accomplishment and help him find his way to Denver.
"Very generous people in the community started sending him cards," said Stacie. "The whole community was excited for him."
Besides congratulations and well wishes, Rance and his family also discovered that there were monetary donations to help pay for the trip.
"It felt really good that they wanted me to go and have fun," Rance said.
Rance's mother said that besides the normal 10 and 20 dollar bill her son would find in the cards he received, a generous sizable donation was also made by a member of the community.
The trip was set and Rance and his family were on their way to Denver. Once they arrived, it was an experience none of them would soon forget.
"It was really cool because it was my first time going to an NFL game and going down on the field to see what it was like," said Rance.
Forty kids in all took part in the festivities during the Denver and Tennessee game on Dec. 8. The kids were introduced by name and hometown and then got to show their stuff to the sellout crowd at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"I don't even know if I have words," said Stacie. "I was so proud of him."
Rance said his time in Denver was fun, but that it was really cold too – showing off his subtle sense of humor. Rance plans on entering the competition again next year and hopes to repeat.
Both Rance and his family recognize that this experience wouldn't have been possible without the help of the Glasgow community.
"We can't thank our community enough," said Stacie. "The calls, the texts, the money, it was amazing. There's a reason we're hometown people, and we'll live here forever because of that."