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Knights of Columbus Free Throw Challenge E-mail
Written by Ed Sleyzak, PGK Regional PR Coordinator, Knight of Columbus   

The great basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.” Over the course of the past two months Saint Stephens Catholic School has been well represented by young athletes trying to become better through the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Challenge.

Since 1972, councils have sponsored the Knights of Columbus International Free Throw Championship for boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14. The championship is set up to have the contestants compete within their own gender and age group. All competition starts at the local level. Winners move on to the district, regional, and state or provincial levels.

The Saint Stephens Knights of Columbus Council 14084 has diligently participated in sponsoring our Parish competition to allow students from our Saint Stephens parish and school an opportunity to compete in this wonderful Knights event. Statewide shooters test their skills and mental fortitude to advance through several rounds to a state championship held by our Florida Council each year.

This year, as in years past, our Saint Stephens athletes have risen to the challenge! Four shooters advanced from our District competition at Nativity and participated in the Regional competition held at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz. Tabitha Vega, Noelle Herrera, Brianna Spencer, and Austin Wiles represented our Council well with great skill and character. It is not an easy competition as each contestant must shoot 25 free throws in hopes to make more than their fellow competitors. It takes not only skill but also one’s ability to focus and overcome nerves. All four shined, placing in the top three for their age group, and made our council and Saint Stephens School proud of their efforts!

Austin Wiles was fortunate enough to move on to the state competition by winning his regional 10 year old age group. The state competition was held March 4th in Clermont, FL at East Ridge High School.  It is always a well-run event by our State Council Representatives.  Shooters from around the entire state of Florida, from Miami to Pensacola, gathered to compete. Austin completed against five other boys for the ten year old championship. It was a tough competition but Austin was able to come out on top and bring home his second consecutive First Place State Free Throw championship for our Saint Stephens Knights Council and his Saint Stephens Catholic School!

What an amazing opportunity for our youth that our Council 14084 provides each year. While the trophies and metals are great, it is the relationships and experience of meeting new competitors across the state that is truly a gift our council provides. Without the hard work and support of the Saint Stephens Knights of Columbus Council 14084 this would never be a possibility for our athletes. All the parents and athletes thank them for their continued support of such wonderful Knight sponsored activities such as this. We are truly blessed by this amazing Christ driven fraternal order in our Parish!