By Skylar Reestman
Callie Heithoff, a master free-thrower
It seems so simple. To stand at a line 15 feet from the basketball hoop, bend your knees, and throw a basketball out your hands and into the net. It’s an unforgettable and surreal feeling as the ball leaves your fingertips and spins into the net as it makes the swish sound. It seems like such an easy sport to pick up, but as Callie Heithoff knows, it takes years of practice to be able to properly shoot a free throw and play basketball.
Calli, daughter of Todd and Melissa Heithoff, is an 8th grader at Elgin Public School. For the past 6 years, she has competed in the annual Knights of Columbus free throw competition. Like years in the past, this year she has again made it to the regionals and – if all goes well – will move into the finals for the free throw competition.
Her basketball skills were not just something she acquired, but have been honed through practice throughout most of her childhood.
“I first started learning how to play basketball in first grade in Saturday morning basketball”, she said. Saturday morning basketball is a youth basketball program within our community that allows kids the chance to begin their basketball career at a young age. Heithoff went further into youth basketball saying, “I think it’s important for youth to try basketball because it gives them a chance to learn something new that they may enjoy, it could become a passion of theirs.”
When it comes to the game of basketball, her least favorite part is the conditioning. However, she also expressed why she loves the game so much. “My favorite part of basketball is that it’s a team sport, but it also gives you the chance to show your own skills and abilities.”
It has become obvious that one of her skills is free throw shooting. Over the years, she has made countless memories with her teammates winning tournaments, practicing in the gym, etc. One of her greater accomplishments is that she has won at the State level of the free throw contest three times in the past and hopes to win again this year.
She credits her skill back to starting young and the long hours of hard work in the gym with her dad. “I enjoy competing in the free throw contest because I think it helps me prepare for high school basketball.” she said. “Basketball is my favorite sport and I enjoy playing competitive teams and working hard on the court with my teammates.”
Although it has not been said when or where the regional or state competition for the free throw shooting will take place, Callie Heithoff is practicing her shots and making sure she is ready to compete. We wish her all the good luck and hope she brings home some hardware from the Knight’s State Free Throw Competition.