The second time around is the charm for 10-year-old Detroit Country Day 4th grader Gabe Nazelli, who won the southeast Michigan district title in the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest, held last weekend in Flat Rock.
Gabe is the son of Christopher and Andrea Nazelli from Farmington Hills. Chris is a Senior Lecturer at Wayne State University, and Andrea is a Spanish teacher at Detroit Country Day.
Soon after failing to make it to the state finals last year in the Boys Division, 8-9 year old category, Gabe began perfecting his free throw technique. The feisty red-head comes from a distinguished basketball pedigree. His father was an outstanding high school and college basketball player at Livonia Stevenson High School and Henry Ford College.
Gabe’s grandfather, Dennis Nazelli, rose quickly through the basketball coaching ranks in the ‘80s from Livonia recreational leagues, to AAU, to Dearborn High School, European basketball camps, to Schoolcraft College, to Olympic Trials.
Joining Gabe at next month’s State Free Throw Finals will be three other district winners from the sponsoring Livonia Elks Lodge No. 1575: Shannon Butik (8-9 year old girls); Kimberly Freed (10-11 year old girls), and Nathan Micallef (12-13 year old boys).
For the past three years, Gabe has participated in organized basketball leagues and the Greg Kelser summer camps. Gabe is a hard worker and has become an offensive threat to his opponents.
The Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest is a co-educational youth basketball program, sponsored by the Elks National Foundation. Of the millions of young people who participate and advance, six national champions are named. The winners of the national competition have their names inscribed on a plaque housed in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.
The Elks Hoop Shoot provides a unique, character-building and competitive program for all participants, regardless of their athletic ability or previous experience. The program provides children the opportunity to experience healthy competition, establish positive relationships with peers, and develop self-management skills that aid in achieving school and life success. Youth participate at a minimal expense to their parents or school and benefit from the involvement of their families and community members along the way.
-- submitted by Andrea Nazelli