Not one but two fourth-graders from Shady Cove School will represent the Rogue Valley at the state level of the Elks "Hoop Shoot" free throw contest.
Travis Bonney and Kirsten Pariani first won the Shady Cove competition and then went on to win the Rogue Valley competition at Cascade Christian School. Another win at the southwest district contest in Roseburg on Saturday, February 2 shot the nine-year-olds to the state level.
According to Fred Alexander, teacher at Shady Cove School and coordinator of the event, it is "uncharted waters" for two students to represent the valley at state level. The contest happens to hold a special place in Alexander’s heart because he, too, competed in the "Hoop Shoot" when he was a boy at Lone Pine School in Medford.
The two youngsters are excited about the state competition on February
16 at Willamette University. When asked how they feel about their
success so far, Travis said he was surprised to do so well. "I did not
think I would make that many good shots." When he did win, he
complimented the boy he beat by saying, "Good game."
said, "I am really proud and really amazed." She has played basketball
for two years with the "Ladybugs" and the "Pink Panthers" basketball
teams sponsored by the City of Eagle Point Parks and Recreation
Department. Coed teams are open to School District 9 students in the
2nd through 5th grades.
"Hoop Shoot" competitors do not need
to be athletes, stated Alexander. They just need the discipline to
"practice-practice-practice." He added, "I get a lot of joy out of
seeing kids do something for the first time. When they do well, it
gives them self-confidence."
If Travis and Kirsten win the
state competition held at Willamette University on February 16, they
will go on to the Western Regional contest, said Alexander. Regional
winners then compete in the national finals at Springfield,
Massachusetts. Only 72 youths will make the national finals where the
winners take home trophies and have their names inscribed on a plaque
at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
school is rooting for the two students. Shady Cove School Principal
Tiffany O’Donnell said, "We’re pretty jazzed. We are very proud of how
well our students are doing in this event."
Alexander said any
student may participate. There are three age groups for both boys and
girls: 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 years. This yearly coeducational youth
sports program, sponsored by the Elks National Foundation, is teacher
generated. For more information call Alexander at 830-6214.
By Margaret Bradburn
For the Independent