Elks Lodge set for annual Hoop Shoot contest

By Michelle Pope

   An opportunity for children ages eight through 13 to try their hand at basketball free is in Carter County again.
   The Elks Lodge #1847 of Elizabethton will be sponsoring the annual 'Hoop Shoot' contest Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Carter County Boys and Girls Club at 8:30 a.m.
   The contest is open to all boys and girls who fall into one of the three age groups: 8-9 year olds, 10-11 year olds, and 12-13 year olds. The program, started over 15 years ago by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America, branches into five levels of competition.
   It begins with a local competition, and advances through district, state, regional, and ends with six national champions, a boy and girl from each of the three age groups.
   The free throw contest is ideal for children who may not enjoy the pressures of a fast-paced game situation. Participants may shoot free throws, and the top three winners in each category are awarded trophies.
   "They get a kick out of getting a trophy for shooting free throws," Jerry Jenkins recalled from past Hoop Shoots.
   Jenkins, along with Con Nave, Roy Dugger and Norman Chesser, all of the Elizabethton branch of the Elk Lodge, are spearheading the effort to bring the competition to children in the Carter County area.
   Once a child advances to the district competition and beyond, the Order of the Elks bears the brunt of the cost of the trip. Parents accompany the contestants as guests of the Elks.
   The names of the national champions are displayed at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
   In preparation for the Hoop Shoot contest, Jenkins and the other members visit radios, newspapers, and schools.
   "We talk to the principals, tell them what it's all about, talk to the Phys Ed teachers. All the schools have been really nice to us."
   The Elks hope to involve as many children as possible in the nationwide program that draws over three million contestants each year.
   Besides building individual skill, character, and peer relationships, Jenkins says that the competition in itself is beneficial, and could possibly spur a child into playing a sport, which might lead to a college scholarship.
   "It's the act of competing," he said. "They can see how good they are, and hopefully will benefit. They'll say, 'Maybe I might be able to play a little bit at the school level, or at the Boys and Girls Club.'"
   For more information on the Hoop Shoot contest, contact Elks Lodge #1847 at 423-543-2341.