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Elks Hoop Shoot nets six winners

Our Towns
Kim Doose

It was a shooting showdown that produced a few nervous parents and six Glenwood basketball players who will advance to districts in Rangely this Saturday.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks hosted their annual Hoop Shoot competition on Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

The competition is a national free-throw-shooting contest that is open to boys and girls ages 8-13. This year the event drew more than 35 players.

Some contestants, while warming up on the floor and inconspicuously eyeing the competition, offered their strategies.

“I’m the defending champ,” Eric Abrahamovich said. “My dad tells me it’s mostly in the legs, and that’s really what I do,” he said.

Cassidy Gaddis, who will be traveling to Rangely, had her own tactic: “I’ve been practicing for a long time ” like two weeks,” she said.

More than 25 volunteers from the Elks Lodge organized the program that helps kids sharpen their shooting skills while it teaches character, discipline, respect and individual responsibility.

Most of the kids didn’t seem to be nervous and were participating in Hoop Shoot for their second or third time.

“It’s kind of gotten tougher this year. The hoops seem bigger ” a little higher,” Jonathan Mendoza said.

“At first I didn’t know who was going to win, but then I thought I would,” Delaney Gaddis said. And she was right.

Hoop Shoot director George Dana, who taught middle school for 28 years and coached middle school basketball for 20, said, “It gives them a chance to compete. They can advance to nationals, and it’s a fun thing to do for them.”

Shannon Derby watched her son, Cody Derby, take second place in his division.

“I’m totally pleased, but I was a nervous wreck!” said Derby as she rushed off to the other side of the gym to watch her daughter, Natasha win her division.

For some, the program can act as an early catalyst for kids to pursue the game throughout school and playing at a college or professional level as division winner Collin Porterfield dreams of doing someday.

GSHS boys basketball coach Kevin Flohr knows what that feels like for a parent. His son, Sean, won the Hoop Shoot nationals in 1996 and 2000. “It’s enough to give the parents a heart attack when they get that far,” said Flohr.

The Elks are devoted to national youth programs and consider kids our most treasured natural resource.

“The Elks treat the kids like royalty; the kids feel special, and it gives them a chance to have a shining moment,” Flohr said.

Contestants from Sopris Elementary from left, Sarah Davis, of Glenwood, 10, is in fifth grade; Shae Mollica, 11, is in fifth grade; and Lara Mollica, 8, is in second grade and took second in her age division. All live in Glenwood.

These volunteers from the Elks Lodge acted as line judges and scorekeepers. From left, Tom Williams, of Glenwood; Ron Nadon, of New Castle; Jim Frey, of Glenwood; and George Lloyd, of Glenwood.

Contestants, from left, Sarah Orosz, 8, a second-grader at GSES; Rachel Orosz, 9, a fourth-grader at GSES; and Delaney Gaddis, 8, a third-grader at Carbondale Elementary School, and Cassidy Gaddis, 11, a fifth-grader at Carbondale Elementary School. The Gaddis sisters both won their division and will be going to Rangely on Saturday.

Elks organizers and volunteers, from left, Kelly Johnson, of Glenwood, is a CMC employee and worked at the registration table; Hoop Shoot director George Dana is retired from coaching and teaching; and Carol Brown, of Glenwood, is a CMC employee and also worked at the registration table.

From left, Tiffany Brickell, 14, an eighth-grader at GSMS; Shannon Derby, who manages Johnson Park; and Natasha Derby, 13, an eighth-grader at GSMS who won her division.

From left, Mike McGraw, 11, a fifth-grader at SES; Connie Casey, of Glenwood, teaches reading at SES; Kellin Casey, 11, a fifth-grader at SES who won his division; Steve Casey, who works for Holy Cross; and McKenna Casey, 12, a seventh-grader at GSMS.

Glenwood Springs Elementary players, from left, Jimmy Butcher, 10, a fifth-grader; Cody Derby, 11, a fifth-grader; Collin Porterfield, 9, a fourth-grader; and Eric Abrahamovich, 9, a fourth-grader. All live in Glenwood

Contestants, from left, Jamie Bair, of Glenwood, 12, a seventh-grader at Gypsum Creek Middle School; Nikki Pearson, 12, of Glenwood, a seventh-grader at GSMS who earned third place in her division; Allison Rippy, of Glenwood, 12, a seventh-grader at GSMS; and McKenzie Kuhn, 12, of Glenwood, a sixth-grader at GSMS who earned second place in her division.


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