March 5, 1998 in Nation/World

9-Year-Old Takes Her Best Shot Free-Throw Prodigy Ready For Regionals

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Although the other kids at Bryan Elementary School spend recess jumping rope and climbing playground equipment, 9-year-old Lindsey Stark does not monkey around.

With the steely-eyed concentration of a surgeon, the tiny girl with a tiny voice spends every recess in the school gym shooting free throws.

And with a record that would rival that of most NBA stars - about 85 percent on a good day - Stark has become one of the best free-throw shooters her age in the region.

She and her family will leave today for Portland, where she’ll compete in the Elks National Hoop Shoot regional competition Saturday. It’ll be her second time at the regional event in as many years.

The third-grader offered a few pointers after practice Wednesday.

“Put your elbow in. Put your pointer finger on the valve,” she said. And for the all-important follow-through, she takes a tip from her dad: “Put your hand inside the cookie jar,” she said.

She has shot from the 11-foot line the past two years because she’s so young, but if she competes next year, she’ll move back four feet to the regulation line.

She said she has no idea how many baskets she has made in local, state and regional Hoop Shoot competition.

“A lot,” she said with a smile.

Physical education teacher Clark Campbell, who spends each recess coaching Stark, said he does not usually let second-graders compete in the free-throw contest. “They just don’t usually even get it up to the basket,” he said.

But he bent that rule last year for Stark, who dreams of playing in the WNBA. Her dad, Garry, said she started playing basketball to keep up with her older brother and sister. But she has passed them up.

So, what about that dream of going pro?

“I think she’s going to do it. I really do,” her dad said.

If Stark takes first place at the regional competition, she’ll win a place at the national free-throw shooting contest in Springfield, Mass., next month.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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