The Family Religion

Wayne Bower developed plenty of grit—his lucky charm—en route to the 2019 Hoop Shoot National Finals. But, he might’ve learned a bit about grit, and now gratitude, from his dad, too.

“The Elks Hoop Shoot was like a religion in our family,” says Jacob Bower, Wayne’s dad.

Jacob is the youngest of five boys—all of whom competed in the Hoop Shoot; his oldest brother competed in the National Finals before Jacob was even born. Jacob’s father, who died when Jacob was 3 years old, encouraged his older sons to participate.

They continued their father’s legacy, ensuring that Jacob was ready to go when the time came. He competed every year, from the time he was 8, and went on to win the National Championship in 1997.

Jacob loved his Hoop Shoot experience, and so did Wayne. As Wayne advanced, he had the opportunity to travel to Portland, Oregon, and Chicago—places he’d never been.

“It reminded me about all the good experiences I had with the Hoop Shoot,” Jacob says. “As I researched my Lodge and saw how much they give to the community by helping others, especially kids and veterans, something inside me told me I needed to join.”

Jacob submitted his application to join the Nampa, Idaho, Lodge No. 1389 before the 2019 National Finals even began.

“It’s just something I believe in,” Jacob says. “Getting involved in it has been so exciting. I just love everything about the Elks.”

Larry Torres, a Senior Hoop Shoot Regional Director, has seen a strong effort in recent years to make the program one where Elks reach out and connect with the participating families beyond the contests.

“We want to get them more involved at the local level … so they can start making that personal connection with the Elks,” Larry says. “We’re building our future there.”

The Bower family regularly attends the Nampa Lodge’s Friday night dinners, and Jacob plans to promote Lodge opportunities—like the ones he and Wayne received—to others in the community. He’s already volunteering with the Hoop Shoot. He hopes to direct the Lodge contest one day. “I really believe this is one of the best events kids can be involved in,” Jacob says. “The Elks have done so much for my family and now for [Wayne]. I’d be really surprised if this didn’t continue for the next couple years for him.”

Jacob and Wayne are featured in the 2019 Griteo series. Watch their video below to hear more about their Hoop Shoot experience!(Runtime: 2 mins., 49 secs.)

The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for nearly 50 years. For 2019-20, the Elks National Foundation allocated $1.1 million to fund the program. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit

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