Hoopster, 10, ready to play
Ten-year-old Caitlin Volkmann has always enjoyed sports, but the orange ball is whats bringing her the points.
Volkmann is taking her shooting to the Elks Hoop Shoot regional competition on Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa, one round away from nationals. Last year she received sixth place at the Hoop Shoot national competition.
To reach regionals, she already won four levels of competition. She needed to be the top scorer in her category to advance to each level.
She is from Wadena and the daughter of Tim and Sue Volkmann. She is a fifth-grader at Wadena-Deer Creek elementary and has been playing sports for as long as she can remember.
"When she started walking, she had a ball in her hand," said her mom, Sue Volkmann.
Volleyball and basketball are tied as her favorite sports. As it is basketball season now, she is ready for hitting the hoops.
During each Hoop Shoot competition, she is given 25 tries at making a basket. She made 19 of 25 baskets at the school competition, 17 of 25 baskets at the next level of competition, 23 of 25 at district and 21 of 25 at state.
Volkmann is not nervous about regionals yet. She will start becoming nervous the day of competition, which is Saturday.
The hardest part about competing is trying to make baskets when being nervous and shaky, she said.
Her level of nervousness depends on her competitors skills.
She becomes less nervous if they dont perform well but more nervous if they do, she said.
Volkmann doesnt use many special techniques when she shoots the basket. She just aims for the basket, she said.
"Shes a natural shooter," her mom said.
She doesnt do many things in particular for good luck either, but she does wear the same outfit to each competition. The Hoop Shoot participants can wear any outfit they like, but Volkmann chooses one outfit to wear to all the competitions. She wears a white T-shirt and gold shorts and white socks with gray trim.
Wearing the same clothes at each level of the Hoop Shoot competitions is common among the kids, Sue Volkmann said.
When Caitlin Volkmann is not competing, her dad is her main basketball opponent. Despite Caitlins shooting record, her dad can be a challenge for her. She wins against him under only one condition.
"If he goes easy on me," she said.
Her sisters, Courtney, 13, and Casey, 6, play basketball with her, too. Courtney is in seventh grade and plays on the freshman WDC basketball team. Casey is waiting to take her spot in the Hoop Shoot contest. She needs to wait two years until she is able to enter the contest.
Caitlin Volkmann also plays on the Wadena-Deer Creek fifth-grade traveling team. She plays in tournaments on weekends and practices twice weekly.
Sometimes she practices on her own. At her home, she practices on a large concrete slab with basketball hoops.
At 10 years old, Volkmann doesnt know yet what she wants to be when she grows up. She does think shed enjoy professional basketball, however.
As for why Volkmann likes basketball, she has a very simple answer.
"Its just fun," she said.