I must admit that July was a blur here at the Advocate News, with the convergence of two county fairs, the conclusion of baseball and softball season, and taking orders for our full-page ad sale ads, I'm not sure how many straight days I worked and/or traveled, but it was several weeks.
In recent issues of the Advocate News, we've brought you extensive state softball coverage of the Class 2A No. 1 ranked Wilton Beavers as they chased a state title, finishing fourth.
This week, we wrap up county fair coverage with a section on the Muscatine County Fair. See pages 14-21 for complete results from the fair, plus photos from the week. To see more photos, go to wdadvocatenews.com.
Somehow, in the midst of that craziness, I signed up for the Muscatine Y's second annual hoops challenge. I’ve been a Y member for years, and in early July, I got an email about the second straight Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County Hoops for Kids’ Sake event July 31.
Like many area YMCA’s, the Muscatine Y also serves as the hub for the county Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The group decided to host a free throw contest at the Y again this year — a $20 donation granted you 25 free throws. There were multiple age divisions, from children to adults. The top three from each division made the finals, where they were given 10 more — a twist from last year.
Also new this year was a game of "H-O-R-S-E for all interested, and a 3-point contest, NBA style, with five shots each from the corners, wings and top of the key.
I was eager to enter. It was for a good cause, and one of my favorite things to do is shoot baskets, namely free throws. It started when I was in grad school at the University of Iowa. I had an office in the Field House on the Iowa campus from 2006-2008. Often I would shoot hoops late at night before leaving for home. I'd always shoot free throws to end the session.
Last year, I made the finals with 21-25 made. I made 22 in the finals, and was beaten by one, as Drew Wichers, a Muscatine High School grad who played one season with Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, made 23 in the finals.
This year, while the numbers overall were lower in terms of participants, all the finalists from last year (and more) were in attendance. I hadn't been practicing this year as much as in 2020. It showed. I struggled through the prelims and made 21 again, which tied me for third and got me a spot in the finals.
Rather than 25 more, four finalists were given 10 shots each. Three of us made nine of 10 — still tied — time to shoot 10 more. I was the first to shoot, and missed the first one. It forced me to make the last nine, which I did. However I knew I was doomed. I thought one of the young guys would make all 10. Wichers was again in the finals, and went next, making all 10. Another young man, new this year, made the first eight before missing the next.
For the second straight year, Wichers defeated me by one shot. One may call this a bit of a rivalry, however the kid is pretty automatic. Now I have something more to shoot for. Hope to see him next year.
I had told the organizers that I would do the 3-point contest, but wasn't sure why, as I never shoot or practice threes.
There were three of us that stuck around for the threes. The setup was much like the NBA All Star game 3-point contest. You begin in the corner, and go around the world, shooting five shots from each corner, each wing and the top of the arc, for a total of 25 shots.
I went second and made 16 of 25 total threes. It was good enough to win the contest and get a trophy. I couldn't believe it. Probably the first time I shot 25 threes in one shoot-around in my life. I'll take it! And I admire the powers that be for only giving trophies for first place. We're not there for participation trophies.
Remembering Tom Zeleny—We were saddened this week upon learning of Pastor Tom Zeleny's passing. We got to know Tom here when he became pastor at the Wilton United Methodist Church. Between he and wife Connie, we received visits often at our office. They were avid readers of the paper, and believed in it as the communicative source of the city. Tom was a very involved man in a community that wasn't even his own town. He was a wonderful volunteer for Wilton Fire/EMS as well.
He was a giver, a sweet man. We'll miss him and his visits.