Gotta Have Faith

In six years, Faith Sjoberg transformed into a confident free-throw shooter with a newfound appreciation for and dedication to the game of basketball. The kid who stepped up to the Hoop Shoot free-throw line at Mapleton Elementary for the first time as a third-grader isn’t the same kid who walked out of the National Finals in Chicago for the last time as a competitor in 2018.

“My life wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t participate in the Elks Hoop Shoot,” Faith says. “The lessons, experiences, memories and friendships will last a lifetime.”

Over the years, the entire Sjoberg family shared those same views with Faith. They decided that the year Faith aged out of the Hoop Shoot program is the year they would join the Elks. And, in August 2018, they did!

“Our family had the fortune of volunteering at the Presque Isle, Maine, Lodge No. 1954 Christmas dinner last winter,” shares Kevin Sjoberg, Faith’s father, “After that experience, Sue and I knew this would be a great organization to be a part of.”

Not only did the Hoop Shoot change Faith, but it also allowed her family to share new experiences with one another. The Sjobergs flew together for the first time to the 2016 National Finals in Chicago, returning every year since, exploring the city and making new friends, all while watching the best free-throw shooters in the nation, including their daughter, “do their thing.”

“It was pretty humbling to be a part of that,” Kevin says.

A recurring quality the Sjobergs seem most proud of Faith in finding, through her wins and losses in the Hoop Shoot, is her unwavering humility. Faith was the Lodge and District champion all six years she competed. She’s the only girl in Maine to ever win the Alan W. Richard Outstanding Shooter Award three times, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Although Faith never took home a National Championship, she came closest when finishing in third place in 2017, she’s grateful for the work ethic and perseverance instilled in her by the Hoop Shoot. Her parents agree that the lessons she’s taking away are bigger than any trophy and shinier than any medal.

“I think the lessons from the loss may take her further in her high school playing career, and life in general,” Sue says.

While Faith’s journey at Presque Isle High School begins, so does her parents’ journey with the Elks. Kevin and Sue are looking forward to getting involved in their community and, of course, the Hoop Shoot. Faith plans on helping with the Lodge and state contests and will apply to the BackBoard as soon as she’s eligible.

“The Elks have done so much for me,” Faith says. “I look forward to continuing to be a part of the Hoop Shoot program, and hopefully help others learn as much as I did from my experience, while still loving every second of it.”

The Sjoberg family had no idea they were hopping on a rollercoaster when they went to that first Hoop Shoot contest in 2012, but like Faith and Sue, Kevin says it was worth it.

“After 30 competitions and a boatload of memories, what an incredible ride it was.”

The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for more than 46 years. In 2018-19, the Elks National Foundation allocated $1 million to fund the program.

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