DADE CITY — There was never an abundance of money.
As friends described vacations, Debbie Allen would listen politely as they detailed plane rides and grand hotels.
She was a single mother raising her son, Pasco senior Brennan Allen, on the meager salary of a bank teller. And with Brennan’s father rarely in the picture, money was — and still is — scarce.
“I live paycheck to paycheck,” Debbie said during a break from work Wednesday morning. “There really are no extras.”
That’s what makes this weekend’s trip to Las Vegas the chance of Brennan’s life.
Brennan, who will take his first plane ride, earned a spot in the eighth annual National Kicking Event at the Chris Sailer Kicking Camp. He won the December camp in Atlanta, waiving the $450 entry fee.
Do well, and colleges combing the country for kickers take notice. Brennan has had discussions with N.C. State about a possible scholarship offer, though one coach made it clear they likely would pursue a junior college prospect.
Others could emerge.
A scholarship is likely the only chance Brennan would have to attend college without “major assistance,” Debbie said.
Brennan has an offer from Iowa Western Community College where he could play football and baseball. Bethune-Cookman called Wednesday and expressed interest.
“It’s 100 percent awesome,” Debbie said of the Iowa offer. “I wish it were closer to home. My son is my best friend. It’s always been the two of us.”
For the first time, Debbie will accompany her son on an out-of-state competition. Brennan gained financial support to travel through community donations. Last month’s competition in Georgia was financed thanks to the Dade City Kiwanis Club.
Many in Dade City are familiar with Brennan’s talents and financial hardships.
From the early days of Police Athletic League football, Debbie took solace in coaches assuring her Brennan had tremendous talent and would one day earn a college scholarship.
Of course, there was no guarantee. Despite the fact Brennan had a stellar career as a kicker for the Pirates, colleges have been slow to respond.
“We found out in the last year or two a lot of places don’t like to give scholarships to kickers,” Debbie said. “They want them to walk on.”
A strong performance this weekend could change that.
Brennan has yet to prove he can consistently kick field goals off a natural surface. In high school, most kickers use tees. The Las Vegas competition will force him to kick off turf.
As a senior, Brennan had 37 touchbacks and was a Times’ first-team all-Suncoast selection with 61 points, including seven field goals (some from more than 50 yards).
“It’s really hard for me to get anybody to seriously consider a scholarship kicker,” Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. “I don’t really know why unless it’s something they don’t want to waste money on. I’ll tell you I have sent out hundreds of e-mails and we have a Web site. Most of them won’t even respond.
“If he goes to Vegas and does well the exposure will be there. Can you imagine the pressure? I’m 50 years old and I don’t know if I could handle it.”
At the minimum, the Allens will enjoy the view from 30,000 feet, gliding above the rugged terrain of the southwestern United States. They will stride into a Las Vegas Best Western and soak in the sights and sounds of one of America’s unique cities.
Then, Brennan will have the chance to kick his life onto a new path.
“I have so many caring people in my life,” Brennan said. “…I’ve been lucky to get help from people who really care.”
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.
Photo: Brennan Allen kicks a field goal against Plantation American Heritage