GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Gillette boy will represent Wyoming and three other states in the Elks Hoop Shoot National Contest on April 22 in Chicago.
Jarek Fiedor won the boys 10-11-year-old age group at the 2022-2023 Regional Hoop Shoot contest in Colorado Springs, Colo., on March 18. He made 23 out of 25 baskets, a Gillette Elks Facebook post said. He will represent Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas at the competition, where he’ll join 11 other boys from other regions of the country who are representing the age group.
Amanda Fiedor, Jarek’s mom, said today that she doesn’t think the news of the accomplishment has yet sunk in.
“We are so extremely proud of what he accomplished but also know what mental toughness it took for him to get here,” she said. “There have been some great life lessons learned and that is the best part.”
Pat, Jarek’s dad, said he’s extremely proud of his son.
He said the family went to Colorado Springs for the experience and for Jarek to have the opportunity to continue doing the best he could, have fun and gain valuable experience.
Since Jarek was the last shooter, the family knew Jarek needed 23 baskets to win the regional competition, Pat said. He, Amanda and their 14-year-old daughter, Jerzey, were like deer in the headlights when Jarek was closing in on the target. Jerzey plays on the A basketball team for Thunder Basin High School.
“We all looked at each other and whispered, ‘He could win this thing. I can’t believe it.’ And then when he did win it, we were just in shock,” Pat said.
The ability to perform under pressure and stay focused was crucial for the win, he said. When the children compete, the only sound they can hear in the gym full of families there to support them, with rapt attention, is the sound of one shooter completing the challenge on the other side of the gym, as boys and girls compete at the same time. Referees use hand signals.
“Even for the parents it’s stressful,” Pat said.
Amanda said Jarek loves basketball and he’d play year-round if he could, so it’s nice to see his hard work pay off. Pat said Jarek’s been playing basketball since the time he could hold one.
Jarek said he enjoyed seeing Colorado Springs for the first time, seeing how big the gym is and being part of the Wyoming team.
Chicago will be a new experience for him, too. He said he doesn’t know anything about Chicago. This will be the first time the family has traveled to the city, Amanda said. Jarek said he’s looking forward to shooting baskets in the Wintrust Arena. The arena’s the home of the WNBA Champion Chicago Sky and DePaul Blue Demons.
“It’s going to be pretty big, I’m guessing,” he said.
He said that in addition to shooting hoops, he likes the pace of basketball.
“You get to burn some energy,” he said.
Jarek will participate in practices April 20 and 21 before the competition, Amanda said. The trip also includes the Elks’ planned afternoon for the competitors to visit, tour and play games at Soldier Field. The Elks are providing transportation and lodging for each level of competition.
“We could not be more proud of this fine young man and wish him well in Chicago,” the Elks Facebook post said.
Jarek’s the first Gillette boy to make it to nationals, the post said. There have been three Wyoming children who have won nationals.
The Elks will announce the shooting order April 17, via the Elks National Foundation’s YouTube Channel and livestream the contest there and on the ENF’s Facebook page.
The regional contest results are here.
Gillette Elks Secretary Starla Kuhrt said that Gillette’s Payton Sorenson placed second in the state competition so he didn’t get to go to regionals this year. She said that Sorenson went to regionals in 2022 and was pretty close to making it into nationals that year.
Kuhrt said the regional age groups’ winners also had a shoot-off, which Jarek won.