Jaws dropped as two 8- to 9-year-old boys battled in a shoot-off to see who would be the national Hoop Shoot champion. They continued to drop every time a basketball swished through the basket—1,519 free-throws made in all. Three Elks scholars were among those amazed by the poise, determination and skill of these young contestants.
Elks Scholar Advisory Board members Jesse LeBeau, Maryann Slater and Macy Warburton joined their Elks family during the 2014 Hoop Shoot National Finals in Springfield, Massachusetts, where they saw firsthand how excited the contestants were to reach the National Finals.
Before the big contest began, the Scholar Advisory Board members had a great time meeting the finalists and their families in the Elks Kids’ Zone. In the Kids’ Zone, Macy led a bean bag tournament, Maryann make good luck posters with the families, and Jesse showed off his basketball tricks—and even learned a few tricks from the finalists.
“I'm so thankful that I was able to connect with the finalists, their families and my Elks family,” says Maryann, a 2011 Legacy scholar. “The finalists were so motivated and had such diverse interests beyond basketball—I can't wait to see what they will accomplish beyond the contest!”
Part of the Elks Family
The Scholar Advisory Board members also had a chance to share information about ENF scholarships with the families. The parents were comforted to learn that the ENF will be there for their children when they head off to college, too.
“Being able to serve at the Hoop Shoot allowed me to not only give back just a portion of what the Elks have given to me, but also show the finalists and their families that the Elks are there for them now and will continue to be there in the future,” says Macy Warburton, a 2010 MVS scholar.
During the contest on Saturday, Maryann manned the shot tracker so fans at home could follow along and Macy and Jesse served as rebounders during the contest.
The big weekend ended with Jesse, the 2013 Elks Scholar Alum of the Year and professional streetball player, giving the keynote speech at the awards banquet. Jesse shared how much his participation in the Hoop Shoot affected who he is today. Although Jesse just missed making it to the National Finals when he was a contestant, the Hoop Shoot taught him he has a choice to be bitter for get better. Jesse encouraged the finalists to always
We hope the 72 Hoop Shoot finalists learned a few lessons from the Elks scholars—because we know the Elks scholars learned a lot about dedication and determination from them.
Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation offers youth the opportunity to engage in healthy competition, connect with their families and community, and succeed both on and off the court. In 2013-14, the ENF allocated $692,750 to fund this program. For more information on the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.