Bryce Sanchez, 8, readies his stance before shooting a basketball during his first year competing in the annual Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot, Saturday. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
The gym is silent except for the echo of a basketball as it is dribbled before the hoop. He prepares his shot, sets his feet and jumps up, launching the ball toward the waving net. With a satisfying “whoosh,” the ball hits its target and falls through the hoop.
Roughly 14 kids attended the Roswell Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Saturday, congregating at the Boys & Girls Club to compete for a spot in the finals.
The Hoop Shoot is a national event for children ages 8 to 13, and broken into gender and three age groups. Kids from around the country try to score more hoops than the others in their group.
The six first-place winners from Roswell will go on to the district competition, and from there winners go to state, regional and eventually national competitions.
Each step of the way, the Elks Lodges from the winners’ areas pay for everything for the families: travel, food and hotels.
“It keeps (the kids) out of trouble; gives them something to do,” stated Elks Lodge 969 President, Wayne Mahy. “They are competing against each other, but it’s more of an individual thing, not based on a team.”
It is a competition, but it’s a family friendly one that mother Cindy Sanchez has been grateful for.
Sanchez’s son, 8-year-old Bryce Sanchez, was competing for the first time. His older sister and two cousins have all been coming for a few years.
“It’s kind of a family affair today,” Sanchez chuckled. “(Bryce) is trying to follow in his cousin’s footsteps.”
Seeing as his cousin has made it to state in the past, those were big shoes to fill. Although a little nervous, Bryce was just out to have a good time.
“I just try my best and have fun,” he said. He also plans on trying again next year.
It is the returning partcipants that make the event so fun for members of the Elks.
Besides giving the kids an opportunity to experience healthy competition, the best part is seeing them grow through the years, said Elks Leading Knight (or Vice President) and Hoop Shoot Chairman John Besing.
“It gives (the kids) a challenge, and they get to practice throughout the year (before returning),” Besing said.
The winners in the 8-9-year-old division were Jeremiah Burrola and Daijah Mahy; first place for 10-11 division were Taymon Burrola and Valaree Manzanares; and moving on from the 12-13 division are Tarron Burrola and Kaitlyn Holl.