Skip to main content

My First Hoop Shoot

by Youth Programs Associate Billy Donnelly

I have been the Youth Programs Associate at the Elks National Foundation for over four months now. The last four months of my life have been dedicated to the Hoop Shoot. I get to talk about the Hoop Shoot all day. On the phone, in meetings, in passing small talk. I tell my friends and family about the Hoop Shoot and all of the exciting things that we are planning for the 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals in Chicago. The website that I visit most is not Facebook, ESPN or even my email, it is www.elks.org/hoopshoot. I drink my morning coffee out of my Hoop Shoot mug.

I thought that with all of this Hoop Shoot exposure, I was an expert. I thought I knew everything there was to know. But guess what—I was wrong. The only way to truly know what a Hoop Shoot is like, is to attend a contest.

I got my first taste of a real Hoop Shoot on a recent Saturday morning. My Lodge, Chicago Northshore, Ill., Lodge No. 1316, holds its Hoop Shoot contest in Chicago and I was able to attend. Saturday mornings aren’t exactly my thing. In fact, I was almost late to my very first Hoop Shoot. I dragged my feet up to the gymnasium door with groggy eyes, coffee in hand, but as soon as I opened the door—BAM! The electricity in the room made me more alert than the strongest cup of coffee ever could.

The gym was brightly lit and full of energy. A complete contrast to the grey, snowy streets of Chicago that Saturday morning. Parents sat around and chatted, children were playing on the court with large smiles. I found myself surrounded by familiar faces. Elks National Foundation coworkers, Headquarters staff and Elks I knew from the Lodge were in attendance. Talking with families, passing out doughnuts and assigning volunteer positions—there was much to be done.

Before I knew what was happening I was informed that I would be rebounding. I blinked and the contest started. I kept repeating to myself the rules and procedures that I knew from the pocket manual and volunteer instructions back at the office, but it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t in my office. I wasn’t on the phone talking with someone about a contest that was happening in a few weeks and a few hundred miles away. I was there. It was happening. I was incredibly nervous for that first contestant. For them, for their parents, for myself. Every corner of that gymnasium was filled with excitement, anticipation and hope. I just focused on my rebounding. Stand here. Don’t move. Shot’s up. Get the ball quickly. Pass to line judge. Return to spot. Repeat. Before I knew it I found myself in a groove and started enjoying myself. Before I knew it, they were announcing the winners. My first Hoop Shoot was over.

I was proud of the winners. They did a great job and they deserved it. I was also incredibly proud of all of the volunteers that were there. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for them. They were truly making a difference for the children in this community.

After my Hoop Shoot experience, my office felt a little different. I got it. I understood a little more why the Hoop Shoot exists. Why we do what we do. Before I knew it, Brookfield, Ill., Lodge No. 1510 was having its Hoop Shoot contest and I was so excited to go. When I walked into that gym they couldn’t stop me from rebounding. I loved it. Lodge No. 1510 had an amazing Hoop Shoot. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I jumped right in and started rebounding.

My first two Hoop Shoot contests were incredible. I learned a lot—both on and off the court—and I can’t wait to attend the Illinois North District Hoop Shoot this winter!

Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation offers youth the opportunity to engage in healthy competition, connect with their families and community, and succeed both on and off the court. In 2015-16, the ENF allocated $924,070 to fund this program, which includes the exciting addition of a Hoop Shoot app for contestants. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.  

Billy Donnelly
Youth Programs Associate

Comments

  1. Lynn Rutherford-SnowJanuary 4, 2016 at 8:02 PM

    Welcome aboard Billy! Look forward to seeing you in Chicago along with the rest of the ENF team!
    Lynn Rutherford-Snow, VIRGINIA State Hoop Shoot Director

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

For the Love of Nonprofits

by Nathan Kriha
Donor Services Coordinator
One of the most consistent passions in my life has been a love for nonprofits—especially ones that focus on education and the development of impoverished communities. This love can be traced all the way back to my high school days when my mother (quite forcibly) suggested I teach a kindergarten religious education course with her.
After my introductory class, I thought that this decision would easily be one of the biggest regrets of my life: The children would scream, cry, launch their crayons into space, tear up their books, and cry a little more. While I was initially stunned by this preliminary lesson, I witnessed my mother corral these angsty students and gradually create a heartwarming and quite soothing environment. At this moment I realized the true influence that a teacher can have on their students, and I became captivated with the study of successful teaching methods.
This interest persisted into my coursework at the University of Not…

Meaghan's First Month

by Meaghan Morris
Lodge Grants Program Coordinator

Hello! My name is Meaghan, and I am thrilled to be the new Programs Coordinator in the Community Investments Program office.
I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015. Since then, I’ve jetted around peripatetically, travelling to 46 states and 24 countries, and living in Western Massachusetts, Boston, and the mountains of rural Wyoming.  I moved to Chicago in 2016, and the Cubs won the World Series a little while later. I attribute my move as the main catalyst for the breaking of the Curse of the Billy Goat, so, you’re welcome for that, Cubs fans!
I joined the ENF during its busiest time of the year. I started working in the CIP office one day after grant applications opened for the new year, and our office was inundated with hundreds of grant applications in that first week alone. On top of the busyness in our office, Fundraising, Communications, Hoop Shoot and Scholarships were excitedly (yet gracefully!) preparin…

Back to Biloxi

by John Kavula
Elks Scholar Fellow

As the chilly fall weather crept in on Chicago, Programs Relationship Senior Associate Maryann Dernlan and I had the chance to escape to the sunny, 80-degree weather of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a site visit in preparation for the 2019 Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip.

When I accepted the position of Elks Scholar Fellow nearly five months ago, one aspect of the position that drew me in was the opportunity to choose the location for the Elks Scholar Service Trips. When I found out that Community Collaborations International (CCI), a service organization we had worked with on a past trip, had a program in Biloxi, Mississippi, I knew that I wanted to go to a place that meant so much to me: The Gulf Coast.
Before going to college, I lived just an hour east of Biloxi in Mobile, Alabama, so I jumped at the opportunity to bring a group of Elks scholars, many of whom may have never been to the Gulf Coast, to share the experience of the place I called home …