Like any major city, Chicago can be a noisy town. Whether from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or the cheers from fans at a Chicago Bulls game—or any other Chicago sports team—it seems hard sometimes to escape the noise pollution. This was not the case at the Goodman Center of Roosevelt University on April 16, 2016. The 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals were in the Windy City, and while our National Finalists, families, volunteers and guests made a lot of noise throughout the weekend, the contest gymnasium fell into a silence—only broken by the occasional rhythmic dribble or swish from the net. In this moment, a weekend filled with fun and festivities was the last thing on the minds of the 72 Hoop Shoot National Finalists. They were there to win.
The 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals was an unforgettable event. In Chicago for the first time ever, Hoop Shoot guests took full advantage of the city and all that it had to offer from the very beginning. From the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, all of our Hoop Shoot National Finalists, families and guests were able to access a variety of fun things in downtown Chicago—including boat tours on the Chicago River, visits to the Willis Tower and Navy Pier, Cubs games, and more deep dish pizza than any family could eat. Some families even came a day early to make sure that they could get the full Chicago experience.
Of course, any trip to Chicago would not be worthwhile without a visit to the Elks Veterans Memorial, headquarters of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks as well as the Elks National Foundation. On Friday, at the Finalist FunFest Open House, more than 500 people were welcomed with open arms into the Great Heart of Elkdom and the Grand Lodge headquarters. People were able to eat, dance and learn about the incredibly rich history of the Elks and the charitable programs we are involved with.
The day of the contest started with perfect conditions. Still, no matter how beautiful of a day in Chicago, there would be no distractions for the National Finalists. They were focused on the task at hand. The 2015-16 Hoop Shoot season had been a long road, and they had reached the conclusion of their journey. Nothing was going to stop them now.
The amount of focus and determination displayed by the National Finalists can best be proven with some facts and figures from the big day. On April 16, 72 National Finalists made 1,559 free throws. Five Emile Brady Awards were earned for shooting a perfect 25 out of 25—a number not seen since 1998!
Of the six Frank Hise National Champions, four were decided by shootout. The longest ended after nine rounds, when Camden Cowgill, sponsored by San Antonio, Texas, Lodge No. 216 made 69 out of 70 free throws—and that was before he had a shootoff to win the Getty Powell Award!
The 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals were so closely contested, the Finalists had to have a perfect score to be a Getty Powell winner, and the 2016 winners did just that. Camden Cowgill, sponsored by San Antonio, Texas, Lodge No. 216 and Reagan Ponzer, sponsored by Atchison, Kansas, Lodge No. 647 shot without missing in regulation. Both making 25 for 25 in order to win the coveted Getty Powell Award. The contests were so close, the competition was so tough, it was hard not to cheer out loud. But the gym remained silent. After each shot, after each shooter, until the National Champions were crowned. At that moment the gym was filled with bottled up applause, laughter and cheers. It was so loud, it felt like the United Center during a Chicago Bulls game. All of the 72 National Finalists can hold their heads high, knowing that they earned the right to be at the Goodman Center in Chicago for the 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals.
Here is the complete list of the 2016 Frank Hise National Champions:
*Camden Cowgill San Antonio, TX, Lodge No. 216 25/25 (44/45)
Samantha Griebel Punxsutawney, PA, Lodge No. 301 23/25 (19/20)
Mitchell Leas Devils Lake, ND, Lodge No. 1216 25/25
Macy Richardson Fairbury, NE, Lodge No. 1203 23/25 (18/20)
Cameron Orr Glens Falls, NY, Lodge No. 81 24/25
*Reagan Ponzer Atchison, KS, Lodge No. 647 25/25 (15/15)
(* indicated Getty Powell Award winner)
Click Here to see how all of the 72 National Finalists did!