Fort Wayne girl heads to national NFL competition

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne 11-year-old is heading to the NFL National Punt Pass and Kick competition after beating almost everyone in the state competition, including teenagers. This 11-year-old is a girl excelling at a sport some think is just for boys.

“I don’t have very many kids like Nae Nae,” Coach Gerry Baumgardner said.

“The main thing I have to do is practice,” 11-year-old Joh’nea Donahue said.

Some of Joh’nea Donahue’s earliest memories are of sports, and that’s thanks to her mom, Jessica.

“When I was four years old [my mom] got me into running,” Donahue said. “So, I started running a lot. I ran with older kids. I beat a lot of them.”

She’s still running, but has added sports like basketball, softball and even football to the schedule. It’s her talent in football that is bringing her to Orlando to compete in the NFL National Punt Pass and Kick competition.

Donauhe, better known as Nae Nae, won the state 10 to 11 year-old female competition with a score of 261.6 feet. The only other people to beat that score were the winners of the 14 to 15 year-old groups.

“I can throw really far,” Donahue said. “I knew that was going to be my key.”

But what about football being a sport for boys?

“Why don’t you go watch the videos of Nae Nae stiff arming boys into the dirt,” Baumgardner said.

“It’s not gender, it’s about athletics,” Donahue said.

Baumgardner said it’s not luck that got her here. It’s hard work.

“Most kids go to football practice and they practice at practice,” he said. “She goes home and practices. If I tell her to go home and work on something, she goes home and works on it.”

When it comes to traveling for the national competition, Donahue said she is nervous to be in front of so many people, but Coach Baumgardner knows the truth.

“She’s not scared to go out there and face the hard work,” Baumgardner said. “She’s not scared of boys. She’s not scared of anything.”

The competition is January 29. Right now just Donahue and her mother are able to travel to Orlando. However, they’d love for some of Donahue’s 13 siblings to go. So, the family has set up a gofundme page to help make that happen.