Still in the Game
Hoop Shoot Alum Back on the Court for Their Community

Millions of kids have competed, connected and succeeded through the Elks Hoop Shoot over the years. Most are still connecting and succeeding long after they’ve aged out of the program, sometimes in ways that lead back to the Hoop Shoot.

Such was the case for TJ Cahill of Rhode Island, a 2012 National Finalist. Now a senior in high school, TJ recently staged a free foul-shooting clinic for kids in the community, ages 8 to 13. He called his service project Free-Throw Friday.

“My goal for this clinic was not only to teach kids the fundamentals of free-throw shooting, but also to promote participation in the Local Elks Hoop Shoot competition,” TJ says.

TJ tapped the traits he honed as a Hoop Shooter—goal setting, determination, hard work—as well as incredible initiative and maturity as he set out to make Free-Throw Friday a reality for the kids in his community. Like a mini-Hoop Shoot Director, he scheduled the event with the school superintendent, handed out fliers and took out an ad in local papers to boost attendance, worked with local businesses to provide food and raffle prizes to the attendees, recruited and managed volunteers, and even prepared a multimedia presentation about his experience with the Hoop Shoot.

Obviously, TJ has fond memories of his Hoop Shoot experiences, which include a trip to the 2016 Finals to cheer for his sister, Peyton.

“My family has had a blast over the years,” he says, “from the hospitality rooms, to the FunFest, to the exciting competition. The Hoop Shoot overall was a great experience for our family.”

An experience that he shared with his community through Free-Throw Friday.

“We had about 35 kids and their parents in attendance that night,” TJ proudly says of the clinic.

A bunch of volunteers, including middle and high school coaches, their players, and even his father and Peyton helped make it a success. Old friends Steve Lagesse, Rhode Island’s State Hoop Shoot Director, and Maurice Berube, the director for Woonsocket, R.I., Lodge No. 850 dropped by to represent the Hoop Shoot and answer questions.

Lagesse enjoyed watching TJ and Peyton share their experiences at the clinic.

“They’re prime examples of giving back to the community,” he said.

“Now I'm hoping to attend our local Hoop Shoot on December 10,” TJ says. “I'd like to help out and also see how many kids from my clinic participate, and maybe move on to the next level.”

TJ taught the kids at his clinic more than just how to shoot a free throw. He also taught them what it means to give back. We are proud to have TJ and Peyton in the Hoop Shoot family.

Keep in touch with the past Hoop Shoot contestants in your community! Invite them and their families to assist with grant projects; attend special Lodge events; and of course, to volunteer at the Hoop Shoot.

The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for more than 40 years. In 2016-17, the Elks National Foundation allocated $952,760 to fund the program. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit elks.org/hoopshoot.


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