Amy Groshan, 10, earns berth in national free throw contest
JANESVILLE Amy Groshan found grace under pressure at the foul line.
Groshan, a 10-year-old fourth-grader at St. Matthew’s Lutheran School in Janesville, finished her drive to this Saturday’s Elks National “Hoop Shoot” Free Throw Contest in Springfield, Mass., with a do-or-die effort at the state finals in Wausau and a dominant performance at the regional championship in Iowa City, Iowa, to clinch a national berth in the girls 10- to 11-year-old division.
Groshan had to sink six straight free throws to pull into an 18-for-25 tie in the state title battle in Wausau.
“I knew she needed to make six straight to tie, but she didn’t (know it),” said Amy’s father and coach, Mark Groshan. “She stepped right up and made all six of them.’’
In the tiebreaker, Amy made four of five free throws to advance to Iowa City.
“It was a huge relief,” Amy said about passing her test of courage. “I was just trying my best to make each one.”
At Iowa City, Groshan generated less drama en route to a 20-for-25 session that punched her ticket to Springfield. Groshan won titles in Janesville, Beloit, Wausau and Iowa City in the month-long competition.
Overall, Groshan has made 83 of 105 free throws for a 71-percent average.
Groshan began in the Elks competition two years ago as the lone 8-year-old in the Janesville Elks Lodge 254 contest. She finished second in the 8- to 9-year-old regional finals last year.
The rise to a national berth didn’t come without practice. Groshan duplicates a contest session, taking four warm-up attempts and shooting 25 free throws while her father keeps count.
Amy’s father, a local winner when the Optimists ran the free-throw contest, keeps practice simple.
“You get 25 free throws in competition, so that’s what we do. It’s quality before quantity,” said Mark, a 1983 Janesville Craig High School graduate. “It’s hand placement (on the ball) and follow through. It’s like putting your hand in the cookie jar.”
Amy practices free throws year-round.
“Amy is very diligent about practice,” her mother, Sherrie, said. “She really works at.’’
Amy said practice is the key to her success.
“I was not that good at it, but I practiced every day with my dad and I got better,” Amy said. “I have a form, and I practice and get tips from my dad.’’
Practice makes perfect, but practice is practice, and Amy said there are days when she has to push herself.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating,” said Amy, who plays basketball for St. Matthews and also runs cross-country. “I have a long day at school, and I practice right after school.’’
Groshan is one of 12 to make the national finals.
“It’s kind of scary,” Amy said. “I’ll be against 11 other girls, and it’s going to take a while to finish the competition.’’
Time won’t ice this shooter. Amy Groshan found courage on the foul line.