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Addi Wedin can't be beat at the free throw line

Happy Valley 9-year-old Addi Wedin can't get enough basketball, and her passion for the game paid dividends in late April when she traveled to Springfield, Massachusetts, and brought home the championship trophy for her age division of the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest.

'I like playing basketball,' Addi says. 'It's really fun.'

Addi, a third grader at Happy Valley Elementary School, has had a basketball in her hand almost since she could walk.

'I went to my older sister Taycee's practices when I was 3 or 4,' Addi says. 'I got bored so I just started doing drills with her team.'

Although she's only in third grade, she's a starting point guard on a Clackamas Classic 'A' basketball team that went 18-0 in the Three Rivers League and 32-4 overall during the past season, with the team's only losses to Clackamas' Elite team and to a sixth grade team from Hillsboro. She stands 4-foot-10 and has teammates as tall as 5-10 on her team.

'It doesn't bother me [playing against girls who are a lot bigger than me],' Addi says. 'I'm used to it.'

A few months ago, Addi entered and won a local Elks free throw contest conducted by her school.

After winning her school's free throw competition, Addi began practicing her free throws almost every day, and success followed - with wins at a competition at the Milwaukie Elks Lodge, a district competition in Beaverton, a state competition in Salem, a regional competition in Vancouver, and at the national finals in Springfield.

'I practiced just about every day after school,' Addi says. 'I'd come early and stay late and practice before and after my basketball games. And we have a basket in our driveway. If the sun was shinning, I'd go out and practice whenever I could.'

At each level of competition, contestants advanced based on the number of free throws they made, out of 25 attempts. Addi never made fewer than 18, and she sank 23 out of 25 at the national championships, just beating out three other 8- and 9-year-old girls who made 22 out of 25.

Addi says the key to making free throws is 'Focus. I don't think of anything else. I pretend like I'm at home shooting.'

Is Addi surprised she won a national free throwing shooting championship?

Not at all. She told her parents after winning the competition at Milwaukie Elks, 'I'm going to win the national championship.'

'I just felt like I was going to because I knew if I did it at [the Milwaukie Elks competition], I could do it again at any other [competition].'

The night before the national final, Addi and her parents stopped by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and looked at a plaque in the Hall of Fame that lists Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest winners.

'Addi said, 'I'm gonna be on a plaque like that,'' says Addi's dad, Dan Wedin. 'And the next day she won it.'

Addi's love of the sport of basketball is no accident. Her parents Dan and Kelli 'Dufficy' Wedin were both standout athletes at Franklin High School. Kelli was named PIL girls basketball MVP in 1990, and she's coached her daughters' basketball teams.

Kelli, who was recently hired as head girls basketball coach at La Salle, played for the University of Nevada - Reno after high school. She was the second highest percentage 3-point shooter in the nation her junior year at Nevada-Reno.

Although Addi, like her mom, is an excellent shooter, she says 'passing's what I do best.'

'She's also an excellent ball handler, but her main role is pushing the ball and getting it to our scorers,' Kelli says.

Addi has ambitions far beyond winning free throw shooting titles.

'I want to be in the Olympics some day, and in the WMBA,' she says.