Ever since she started her run at The Elks Hoop Shoot four years ago, Maupin native Julie Hull has had lofty goals of making it to the National Championships in Chicago, being considered a top shooter and going 25-for-25 on the big stage of regionals.
Saturday at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Wash., the South Wasco County eighth grader sank 25-of-25 shots to claim her first Northwest Region 1 Hoop Shoot Championship and then hit 23-of-25 in a separate session and is currently in line to take National Championship honors, and have her name and likeness enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
“Because this was my last time competing, I wanted to get past regionals, and go 25-for-25 in a competition, so by accomplishing those goals, it proved to me that after all these years, my hard work has paid off,” Hull said.
After draining her first 25 free throw attempts to score a regional triumph and qualify for nationals in Chicago, Ill., Hull then shot five sets of five shots to serve as a tiebreaker and went 5-of-5, 5-of-5, 5-of-5, 4-of-5 and 4-of-5 for her 23-for-25 output.
Because of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there will be no trip to Chicago as directors canceled the National Championships, which means that Hull’s 23 made shots will be put against everyone else in the United States.
“My family and I watched a Lakers-versus-Celtics 30-for-30 on ESPN and Larry Bird talked about when he played that he told himself, ‘I’m not going to miss a shot,’” Hull said. “That is what I told myself that morning until it was my turn to shoot.”
Along the way, Hull dealt with adversity and roadblocks that kept her from realizing those regional and national goals.
After a third-place finish at regionals in 2017, in 2018 the eighth grader suffered a broken pinky, and participated with three fingers, and placed fourth at the Northwest Region 1 event.
Last year, Hull missed out on a regionals berth following a one-shot loss at state.
Back on Feb. 10 of this year, Hull sustained a knee injury, which put her elusive regional title shot in jeopardy.
Between working with her doctor and physical therapist, Hull eventually got strong enough to start practicing again two weeks ago.
“I didn’t want my Elks career to end on an injury and take away the chance I have been preparing over the last four years for,” Hull said.
Last time she lost at regionals, Hull said she had her father, Jim, take her up to the gymnasium in Maupin for practice the very next day.
After her brother Jason made it to Chicago back in 2017, where he sank 12-of-25 from 15-feet away to place 12th, winning regionals and qualifying for nationals has been Julie’s motivation.
Julie and Jason are the only competitors from The Dalles Elks Lodge to ever make the National Championships, and they are the only two from the same family in history to earn that distinction.
To go from being so close, yet so far away, Julie Hull can now share some bragging rights in the Hull household.
Her Elks Hoop Shoot days may be done, but she takes several valuable lessons away from the experience.
“Losing in the past, taught me that there is a bigger picture than just being on the line,” Julie said. “It teaches me how to deal with pressure, and how to win and lose with grace. I was also able to gain a bunch of new friends from these competitions.”