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Gabe Nazelli, Southeastern Michigan Free Throw Champ from Farmington Hills, Eyes State Finals
The second time around is a charm for 10-year old fourth-grader at Detroit Country Day as he celebrates his southeast Michigan district victory this past weekend in the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest 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.
After failing to make it to the state finals in 2012 in the Boys Division, 8 to 9 Year-old Category, Gabe began perfecting his free throw technique soon after.
Joining Gabe at next month’s State Free Throw Finals are three other district winners from the sponsoring Livonia Elks Lodge No. 1575. Shannon Butik (8 to 9 Year-old Girls Group); Kimberly Freed (10 to11Year-old Girls Group); Gabriel Nazelli (10 to11 Year-old Boys Group); and, Nathan Micallef (12 to13 Year-old Boys Group).
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.
For the past three years, Gabe has participated in organized winter 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, Massachusetts.
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.