The stunning statute of an elk, that now adorns the front lawn of Tri-City Lodge 14 on West Shore Road in Warwick, has never drawn such attention as it did Saturday afternoon.
Many people, who were taking a break from Tri-City’s highly-popular Meat Raffle, were actually in awe of the shiny trophies a little girl and her mother were setting up at the base of the recently-installed elk.
Suddenly, Warwick Mayor Joseph J. Solomon arrived and was greeted by Steve Lagesse, former Tri-City Exalted Ruler who now serves as State Chairman of the annual Rhode Island Elks Hoop Shoot Competition.
“Thank you for this invitation,” Solomon said while shaking Lagesse’s hand and as Sarah Berube and her parents Norm and Melissa Berube looked on, “Is this our great champion?’
Solomon then extended his hand to Sarah Berube adding, “I’m honored to be here today to congratulate you on winning the Elks State Hoop Shoot Championship and wish well in the New England Elks Hoop Shoot; please, bring back the title to our lodge and city.”
Solomon, who is a long-time member of Elks Lodge 14, was also amazed with Berube’s hardware and added, “The entire City of Warwick wishes you the best and hope you make history here in the city and lodge; we’ve never had a New England Elks Hoop Shoot Champion.”
Lagesse, the entire Elks membership as well as Berube’s friends, family and classmates are also hoping “The Pride of Warwick Neck Elementary School and Tri-City Lodge 14” becomes the first Warwick youth basketball player to ever win the prestigious and highly-acclaimed regional hoop shoot that’s held all over the country and sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Elks.
As Lagesse noted, “We are all hoping this is her year; Sarah has some great credentials heading into this year’s regional shoot.”
For starters, she’s steeped in youth basketball experience.
The 11-year-old fifth grade student at Warwick Neck Elementary School plays in four different basketball groups, namely Cranston Youth Girls Basketball Association Travel Team, Ocean State AAU Panthers, North Providence Youth Coed Basketball Association and St. Kevin’s Church/School Team.
She was the leading scorer and played point guard for St. Kevin’s that finished its Catholic Athletic League season undefeated.
As far as the Elks Hoop Shoot is concerned, she began competing at age 8 recently staked claim to her fourth straight local, district and state championship to again qualify for this weekend’s New England event that will be held in South Portland, Me.
She’s a four-time RI Elks Free Throw Champion who people like Lagesse and Solomon would love to become the first local girl to ever win the regional and head to the National Elks Hoop shoot that will be held in April in Chicago.
In 2016, Sarah took third place in the New England’s then in 2017 she won the Ernest A. Carignan Memorial Trophy for having the high score among all contestants at the state level and second place in the NE Regional.
Back in 2018, Sarah won the Carignan Memorial Trophy again and third place at the New England regional.
In the competition, each contestant takes 25 foul shots and the shooter who sinks the most baskets is the winner. Sarah’s highest total ever was netting 21 of 25 shots, but this time on her way to a fourth straight state title she canned 18 of 25 shots.
“There is a lot of nerves that goes along with this, especially for the parents,” Melissa Berube noted. “However, I believe this competition has given Sarah the determination and confidence to say focused and driven. We are hoping for another successful event; Sarah loves being on the court playing basketball.”
After pausing then praising the RI Elks, Melissa Berube wanted it known, “The Tri-City Lodge members are an amazing group of people that volunteer their time to organize and host all of the RI competitors. We are grateful for their dedication to the youth in the community; the Elks sponsor all the contestants and their families for the competition.”
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SUPER SENDOFF: Warwick Mayor Joseph J. Solomon an RI Elks Hoop Shoot State Chairman join Tri-City Lodge 14 Champion Sarah Berube and her parents Melissa and Norm Berube beside the new elk statute on West Shore Road for last Saturday’s special sendoff off ceremony for the Warwick Neck Elementary School fifth graders entry in the New England championship in South Portland, Maine. (Warwick Beacon photo by Pete Fontaine)