Skip to main content

Sometimes You Miss Your First Shot

by Jacobi Lafferty
2017 Hoop Shoot National Champion

Jacobi is a 2017 Hoop Shoot National Champion sponsored by Burlington, Vt., Lodge No. 916 and a 2023 Legacy Awards winner. He won a Frank Hise National Championship in the 10-11 boys division. Jacobi is part of the new Hoop Shoot alumni group, the Rebounders. Too old to compete and too young to serve on the BackBoard, these alumni are staying involved by serving at their local, state and regional contests.

My grandparents, who were long-time Elks members, first told me about the Hoop Shoot when I was 9 years old. They took me to it one day while my parents were working. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew if it had anything to do with basketball, I was willing to give it a try. I participated for the next five years. I overcame some big hurdles along the way, like having to shoot while I had the flu or with a broken thumb, which I broke the night before we left for the regional contest, and I had to withdraw another year because of a neck injury due to a medical condition I have.

My favorite part of the Hoop Shoot was the feeling of community when I would go to the competition. At my house, we call them our Hoop Shoot family. The other kids, volunteers and Elks, we all felt like we knew one another and could have a good time together. I remember being so nervous as I got on the bus at my first Regional contest, and an older participant named Jamison took me under his wing. From that year on, I always tried to help others because it meant so much to have that relationship with Jamison. I still follow his basketball career, and he came to a couple of my AAU games and was one of the first to congratulate me on my win at the 2017 National Finals.

Making it to the National Finals was the ultimate goal every year I competed. I wanted to make it because I would get to travel, meet new friends, see old friends, and represent my community. I also wanted to make it because I am competitive and arriving at the National Finals meant that I accomplished my goal and would get to compete against the best free throw shooters in the country. In 2015, I made it to Nationals but did not win. This loss was tough for me, but it made me more determined than ever to get back to Nationals. I practiced harder than ever before to ensure I would give myself the best chance of getting there again.

At the 2017 Finals, I missed my first shot, something I have never done, which added more nerves than ever. I ended up in a shoot-off with two other boys. I had to make 44 in a row to win the title. As soon as the ball went through the hoop, I felt so happy. I went to shake hands with my competitors, and then all I wanted to do was watch another Vermonter in his shoot, then go to the zoo. I felt like I had done what I had set out to do. There were so many great lessons I learned from competing in the Hoop Shoot. One of the most important things I learned was about how it was necessary to have a positive mindset and that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. Sometimes in life you will miss your first shot, but you have to keep trying.

I knew from the moment I shot my last shot in the competition that I did not want my Hoop Shoot experience to end. I decided to volunteer at the Vermont state contest because I had volunteered at local contests and really loved the experience. I wanted to give back to a program that meant so much to me. When Steve Edgerley offered me the chance to help at the state contest, I couldn’t pass it up. This year at the state contest, I had the opportunity to talk to participants and to rebound for a few rounds of the contest. I hope to eventually join the BackBoard and volunteer at a higher level when I am old enough.

I want others to know the Hoop Shoot is a super fun program, and everyone should definitely give it a try. You meet lots of new people, and it teaches you a lot of lessons you will need later in life. Though I’ve aged out and can’t compete in the Hoop Shoot any longer, I do know that the skills I learned, like setting a goal, making a plan and following through on the plan even when it is very hard will serve me well no matter what I do. 

If someone is going to participate in the Hoop Shoot, then I would tell them the most important thing is to have fun. Try your best to make it to farther rounds because the later rounds you go, the more fun it is. As you move on, you get to travel, which is a great experience in itself. The competition is competitive, and there are a lot of great free throw shooters, so you need to practice a ton if you want to take it seriously.

If something gets tough or you’re missing shots, just take a deep breath and keep trying. My advice is to develop a routine and stick with it even when you are struggling. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. The Hoop Shoot can help with so many things in your life. It has helped me with activities outside of basketball, such as school, because it taught me that even if something is hard, I have to persevere and not give up.  

The Elks have been developing gritty kids through the Hoop Shoot program for nearly 50 years. For 2019-20, the Elks National Foundation allocated $1.1 million to fund the program. For videos, news from the court, and more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit


  1. This is a great post. Well done, Jacobi.

    We're glad you a) didn't give up after missing that first shot, and b) have kept in touch with the Hoop Shoot!


Post a Comment


Show more

Popular posts from this blog

Seizing Every Opportunity

Reflections from the SAB President By Kat Nakamura 2019 MVS Scholar Hi, Elks Family! I’m Kat Nakamura, a 2019 MVS Scholar currently serving as the president of the Scholar Advisory Board. My time with the Elks has been a transformative experience, not only providing me with financial support for my education but opening the door to a nurturing community of like-minded individuals and remarkable opportunities. My journey began when I applied for the Elks Most Valuable Student scholarship, and little did I know it was just the beginning of a life-changing adventure. Months later, my mom encouraged me to apply to join the Scholar Advisory Board. Initially hesitant, I thought there was no chance of being accepted. Little did I realize that this decision would lead me to one of my most cherished experiences throughout college. The Scholar Advisory Board are the representatives that advise the ENF on scholar relations. Apart from being on the board, members attend the Elks National Conve

Finding a Place in the #ElksFamily

by Aleah Hahn, Most Valuable Student Scholar Aleah Hahn received a second place Most Valuable Student scholarship in 2018. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2021 with degrees in Biosystem Engineering and German. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State. In her free time, she likes to cycle, forage and hike. Over my spring break I was able to partake in the 2022 Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago! In 2018, I attended the 150 for 150 Service Trip in San Antonio, where we celebrated the Elks 150th anniversary through service. Both were amazing experiences to serve in the name of the Elks. They were alike but also different in many ways.  In San Antonio, I connected with Elks state leadership from my home state of Michigan since the trip was at the Elks National Convention!  I served with 149 other scholars and met many of them. It was a great opportunity to connect with other scholars. The majority of our service was at Haven

The Experience Was a Revelation

by Garrett Schumacher 2011 Legacy Scholar, University of Colorado-Boulder   Prior to this trip of service in Chicago, I had always admired the individuals who gave of their time and talents with the purpose of bettering someone else’s life. I wanted to be like them but for the wrong, selfish reasons. After feeling inadequate in this regard for some time, I decided to take the leap and apply for the opportunity that only an incredible organization could provide. My background with the Elks has shown me that they are a communal group that profoundly affects the lives of many people on a national scale every day; being one of those people through scholarships, I felt I owed something to the F oundation and the people they serve. The experience was a revelation for me. I am a proud member of the Elks family and will continue my work and participation in the organization. I did not owe anyone anything other than gratitude, and I could give of myself for the sole purpose of be