Walk the hallways of her Des Plaines school, and you'll spot Alisa Fallon flashing her pink Superman cape.
It's a nod to her favorite Chicago Bears player, Devin Hester, and his post-touchdown celebration.
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But ahead of her own turn on a football field Saturday, Alisa couldn't muster her usual swagger. The 14-year-old was too nervous on a national stage: the finals of the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick contest in Denver.
Fallon went up against seasoned veterans with powerful legs and arms, most of them soccer players who can translate their kicking skills to the gridiron. But the teenager tapped her careful preparations with a former collegiate kicker, and it clearly paid off as Alisa won the 14- to 15-year-old girls category and became one of only 10 winners from across the country.
"I'm kind of on cloud nine right now," she said.
For Alisa, the win was part of a whirlwind weekend capped off when the NFL recognized her and her fellow winners in front of thousands of fans and a national television audience during Sunday's divisional playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers.
A student at Our Lady of Destiny School in Des Plaines, Alisa returned home Monday just in time to prepare for her basketball team's conference championship.
Alisa, who qualified for the national finals in Denver through a process that began here in the suburbs, has been training with the former kicker since December two to three times a week in a Rosemont sports dome.
During the event, athletes have two chances to deliver their best punt, pass and kick in a competition that tests both distance and accuracy.
"It's very nerve-wracking," she said.
Alisa first picked up a football playing catch with family, including her cousin, Tony Giovannelli, a running back for Army.
"She's blessed in the sense that every sport she's tried, she's excelled at," said her mom, Shelley Fallon.
At first, her male peers were leery when she asked if she could join them for touch football at recess.
"They would always kind of discount me a little, but once they saw my athletic ability, it kind of surprised them," Alisa said.
On Saturday, some of those male classmates sent the girl with the pink Superman cape congratulatory text messages.
"Girls can be just as good as the boys," she said.
Alisa wasn't the only suburban competitor to come away a winner this weekend. Luke Adams, of Hinsdale, also claimed first place in the 8- to 9-year-old boys category.