VAN WERT — Van Wert Elks Lodge 1197 will be holding its Annual Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest on Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Goedde Building (old high school) on West Crawford Street in Van Wert. Registration for girls will be held at 1:45 p.m. and they will shoot at 2 p.m. Registration for boys will begin at 2:45 p.m. and they will shoot at 3 p.m.

The contest is open to all boys and girls, ages 8 through 13. Boys and girls will be competing separately in their age class.

The Elks National “Hoop Shoot” is the nation’s largest co-ed sports competition and the only non-commercial sporting event conducted on a national basis. More than three million boys and girls, ages 8 to 13, from all 50 states, compete in the Elks “Hoop Shoot” contests at various levels of competition each year. Seventy-two finalists advance from the regional competition to Springfield, Massachusetts, for the national finals.

The national winners, three boys and three girls, will each receive a trophy and have their names inscribed on plaques permanently displayed at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in Springfield, Massachusetts, which began in 1976.

The “Hoop Shoot” program exerts a great constructive influence upon the young people who are brought into its activities. The program aims to build character in young people through competition with their peers, in which there is no outside influence from parents, coaches or teammates, reported Chuck Rollins, Van Wert Lodge Hoop Shoot Chairman.

The local winners will advance to the district competition in Findlay on Jan. 14, 2018, at the University of Findlay with those winners going to state competition. The state winners will advance to the regional contest. The regional winners then advance to the national finals. Participation in the contests are free of charge with no registration fees required. All boys and girls are encouraged to attend and participate this year.