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What Steph Curry Said

by Makenna Cannon
Youth Programs Coordinator, Elks National Foundation

Over the past three months, I’ve attended happy hours, birthday parties, game nights, and house warmings, all from the comfort of my couch. Virtual get-togethers have become the new normal. We’re searching for ways to spend time together while not actually being together. To stay connected, we’ve gotten creative.

A few weeks back, I attended my first virtual conference hosted by the Jr. NBA. I livestreamed discussions and speakers by Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. Surgeon General. Topics ranged from team building to coaching strategy, but the central theme that carried through was engagement: How do we stay engaged and connected with teammates, friends and family? And, why is it important to do so?

For All-Star Steph Curry, engagement looks like virtual all-team workouts twice a week, plus checking in with teammates on FaceTime. Returning to the game is one reason they stay connected, but so is maintaining their bonds as teammates and friends.

“When basketball does come back, we have a prime opportunity to reclaim where we were…and it’s important everyone is doing what they can mentally and physically,” Curry stated during his remarks. So, while the game and the season might look different on the return of basketball, the Golden State Warriors are focused on staying connected to the sport and to each other.

Dr. Murthy led a session on bridging physical distance and finding connection from afar. Murthy presented on the personal health benefits from engagement with others. For Murthy, one of the best ways to engage is through service. Finding creative ways to serve during the pandemic, like taking donations to a food pantry or dropping off PPE supplies at a local hospital, helps both communities and volunteers. Now, possibly more than ever, it’s important to serve. (#ElksAlwaysCare anyone?)

Murthy’s and Curry’s ideas stuck with me because they felt especially applicable to the Hoop Shoot and to the mission of the Elks. Paring down the wise words of a pro-basketballer and a former Surgeon General, my takeaways from the conference boiled down to: 
  1. We need to stay connected with participants and keep them ready for when we're able to return to the Hoop Shoot. 
  2. We should encourage and provide service opportunities for our Hoop Shoot families.
The ENF Hoop Shoot team has spent time discussing, researching, and creating a mini-roadmap on how we move forward. First stop is the #HamperHoopShoot, a social media challenge bringing the Hoop Shoot home. Participants are encouraged to use hampers, bins, buckets, or whatever they have on hand to show off their free throw skills—and for the chance to win a prize. Follow along or enter the competition on the ENF’s social media channels.   

Next, we’re working on developing a plan to encourage our Hoop Shoot families to serve their communities. Similar to Hoop Shoot Assists, our service project held annually at the National Finals, we hope that this connects families to service and to the great work Elks do. We plan to have an initiative before the end of the summer.

I’m hopeful for a return to the Hoop Shoot this fall, but it’s realistic that it might not be possible to return to the program like the one we know and love. It’s expected that the Hoop Shoot will look a little different. Our team has been talking about options and challenges for next season, which we discuss these on a recent episode of the Midday Minute, the ENF’s YouTube show. Check it out if you’d like to learn more.

Like the end to a Zoom call, I’m not sure how to leave this blog post. I’ll just say that it was lovely to connect, and I can’t wait for the time when we’re all back on the court at a Hoop Shoot contest. But for now, we’ll get creative. 

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