Gotta Have Faith

By TAYLOR ODISHO

ENF Communications Asst.

   Despite finishing sixth in her final Hoop Shoot competition, Faith Sjoberg walked off the court at Loyola University last April with the confidence of a champion.

  Over the course of six years including three straight Finals appearances and a third-place finish in 2017, she learned what it takes to be successful on and off the court. Her desire to compete deepened. She gained a better understanding of the value of hard work. And consequently, her work ethic grew.

    The Faith who walked off the court that day in April possibly wouldn’t recognize the one who walked on six years earlier.

  “My life wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t participate in the Elks Hoop Shoot,” Faith says. “The lessons, experiences, memories and friendships will last a lifetime.”

   She’s not alone. Data collected in a recent evaluation of the Hoop Shoot Program suggests that girls who stick with the program develop higher levels of perseverance. The growth was more dramatic than among their male counterparts.

   For example, among the 8- to 9-year-old girls who reached the state level, 17 percent attributed their defeat there to unfairness. Only 42 percent felt they could have done better. However, none of the 12- to 13-year-old girls felt the contest was unfair; 68 percent knew they could shoot better.  

   Sue Sjoberg, Faith’s mom, didn’t need to see the evaluation results to believe it. After Faith’s defeat at the 2018 Finals, Sue said, “I think the lessons from the loss may take her further in her high school playing career, and life in general.”

    Faith is now playing for her high school team. She’s also the freshman class secretary. Her mom and dad, meanwhile, have joined the Elks. The Hoop Shoot changes parents, too. They’re members of Presque Isle, Maine, Lodge No. 1954.

   All three of them expect to volunteer regularly at local, district and state Hoop Shoot contests.

   The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for more than 46 years. In 2018-19, the Elks National Foundation allocated $1 million to fund the program. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit elks.org/hoopshoot.


Faith shakes hands with former regional director Randy Gragg while her father, Kevin, looks on at the 2016 Hoop Shoot National Finals in Chicago.