Elementary and middle school students in Brunswick County will have a chance to compete this month in the first stage of the Elks National Hoop Shoot free throw contest.
The Elks Hoop Shoot returns for the first time since 2019.
“The last time was the year before COVID shut us down. We had two years of no contests because of school system restrictions. We couldn’t get a gym anywhere,” Hank Gerdes, director of the Calabash Lodge Hoop Shoot contest said.
Shallotte Elks Lodge 2854, Oak Island Elks Lodge 2769 and Calabash Elks Lodge 2679 sponsor the local Hoop Shoot contest.
Gerdes said the preliminary contests would take place in the elementary and middle schools throughout November with the help of the Brunswick County Department of Education.
Prior to COVID postponing the event, the 13 schools in Brunswick County were regular participants, which would include up to 2,000 kids in the Preliminary Level of the program, Gerdes said.
The purpose of the Hoop Shoot event is to help students learn about setting goals and working to achieve them by learning perseverance, focus, self-control, enthusiasm and hard work than can aid them in succeeding in school and life.
The Hoop Shoot has six age groups total: three age groups for the boys and three for the girls.
The age groups are 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 years old.
The competitors at the school level take 10 shots from the free throw line and the contestants with the most made shots advance.
Winners from the school contest advance to the Lodge Level contest.
“After I get all the (preliminary level) results, we have the gym at Shallotte Middle School reserved Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.,” Gerdes said.
“We usually have one half of the gym filled with parents, guardians, you name it.”
Gerdes added the Lodge contest has in past years hosted 40-50 participants whittled down from the 2,000 students that take part at the school level.
“When we have the Hoop Shoot at Shallotte Middle School, there’s usually around 40 to 50 kids there, 40-50 contestants. And for the kids, it can be a little bit nerve racking because their parents and everyone are sitting there,” Gerdes said.
Each the Brunswick County Elks Lodges provide volunteers to host the Lodge Level event.
“There’s a check-in where we get information from the parents. We make sure that the age group that a particular child is in, that age group is based on what their age is on April 1, 2023,” Gerdes said.
The school winners who move on to the Dec. 10 Lodge contest will shoot best of 25 free throws. In case of a tie, there will be a shootout with each participant taking another five free throws at a time until one contestant wins.
“It’s a nice event. We provide trophies to the winners of each of the age groups. We also have, at the end of the competition, an overall winner competition. So you’ll have an 8- or 9-nine year old shooting against an 11-, or 12- or 13-year old for a bigger trophy. That’s at the very end.”
The three boys and three girls who win their age group can then move on to the District Level free throw contest.
“The Lodges, if, let’s say a kid goes to the next stage which is the Regional Level, we pay for the expenses of the parents to get their kids there. Spend a night in a hotel, whatever it is,” Gerdes said.
“From our lodge it goes to the District Level. I haven’t yet got information on where the district is but in the past it’s been in New Bern, Beaufort, up in that area.
“The best that we’ve had so far, one of our kids was a winner at the State Level. But the competition is unbelievable. There are some kids that make 22, 23, and 24 or 25 free throws
“The levels of competition, it just goes all the way to the finals are held in Chicago.”
For more information, go to elks.org/hoopshoot.
Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.