Gary Robinette, lodge coordinator, said the contest involves more than 3 million kids nationally every year and more than 200 million kids, aged 8 -13, have participated since its inception 39 years ago.
The Cartersville program typically involves more than 2,000 kids from Cartersville City and Bartow County schools at the grass roots level. It is coordinated through the Bartow County Recreation Department (BCRD).
“Without the partnership of BCRD Director Greg Hight’s staff and the gym facility,” Robinette said, “there is no way we could involve so many kids in our community.”
Each year, physical education teachers in city and county elementary and middle schools are asked to make hoop shoot competition a single day of the curriculum at their schools. Age categories for boys and girls are 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13.
Each school will send its boy and girl winner for those ages to the local contest that is scheduled at the BCRD gym Dec. 15, beginning at 6 p.m. for 8-9 year olds, 7 p.m. for 10-11, and 8 p.m. for 12-13 participants.
School spirit comes into play here, and the winners, their parents and the names of their schools, with photos, are published in The Daily Tribune News.
Each child shoots 25 free throws. Ties are broken by 10 throw shoot-offs until a winner is declared. Winners are presented trophies and all kids get a Hoop Shoot T-shirt.
Winners advance to the Northwest Georgia district contest in Calhoun. From there, winners and their families advance to state, region and ultimately the national finals, which will be held at the Elks National Convention in Austin, Texas, next year. Travel expenses from state to finals are paid by the Elks.
Robinette said at the convention in Phoenix, Ariz., the 9-10 year-old boys were so evenly matched they kept shooting off until one had made 96 free throws out of 100. The winner made 97.
He said the past couple of years some local schools declined to participate and it is hoped there will be 100 percent involvement this year.
“It is a fantastic program that really gets the kids in the whole community enthusiastically involved, and it really only takes a minimum of effort for the PE teachers to do this,” Robinette said. “They get each child to shoot 10 free throws, fill out a form and send it in. The Elks and the BCRD take care of everything from there.”
Contacts at the schools are currently under way to provide information to teachers and recruit their participation.