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Shooting for the hoop: Elks give kids a shot at fame

Al Edenloff | Echo Press The Alexandria Elks annual Hoop Shoot competition on Sunday tested the free-throw skills of children, including this group of boys ages 8 and 9. A photo of the winners is in today's Sports section.

They dribbled, took aim and fired away. Participants in the Alexandria Elks Hoop Shoot tested their skill from the free-throw line at the Lakes Area Recreation gym Sunday afternoon.

Boys and girls ages 8-13 competed in the annual event. They took 10 straight shots and then another 15 while Elks organizers kept track of their success.

Those with the highest percentage of baskets made earned first place trophies and the opportunity to advance into the competition's next stage, the state semi-finals in Baxter on January 29. See today's Echo Press Sports section for a photo of the winners.

The Hoop Shoot is a nationwide Elks program that's regarded as the largest and most visible of the many youth activities sponsored by Elks Lodges.

More than 3 million boys and girls, ages 8-13, are expected to participate this year.

From the millions of youngsters who participate and advance through local, district, state and regional competition, six national champions are named - one boy and one girl in each of three categories: ages 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13.

The national winners each receive a trophy and their names are inscribed on a plaque at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Parents accompany contestants throughout the competition. The parents of finalists at the state, regional and national levels attend the competitions as guests of the Elks.

According to the Elks, the goal of the program is to provide an interesting, character-building, competitive program for all girls and boys in the contest regardless of their previous athletic competition or abilities.

The Hoop Shoot gives these youngsters an opportunity for spirited competition, a time to form relationships with their peers, and the chance to travel statewide, regionally and nationally - at minimal expense to their parents or school.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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