Ten-year-old from Punxsutawney competing for national championship

Local News

When Samantha Griebel steps up to the free throw line, it’s about focus and concentration. 

The fifth grader says her mom’s voice runs through her head. “At practice, my mom always says down up follow through finish high so sometimes I always think of that,” adds Samantha. 

The ten-year-old practices for hours every day, but she’s not alone on the court.  It’s a team sport for the Griebel family.

Her dad is also known as Coach. “My dad passed away when I was 25 and I still remember working the farms with him.I feel the same way with them. I didn’t have kids to send them to boarding school,” says Dr. Stephen Griebel. 

All four Griebel sisters have had their time shooting hoops. This year, they’re cheering youngest, this time from the bleachers. “I’m proud of all the girls they step up and help her,” adds Stephen.

Samantha is looking to become a national champion of the Elks hoop shoot, again. She has already taken home the national title back in 2016. She beat out her final competitor in a sudden death shootout. “When you get there these kids are like machines, they don’t miss. you realize you can’t win this unless you’re perfect. You got to be lucky when everyone else is unlucky.”

Her dad says his proudest moment of Samantha on the court is her attitude. He says his daughter has been complimented many times on her sportsmanship. 

The fifth grader says it’s all about making friends, helping her have a relaxed approach on the line. “I’m really calm like I just walk up there. So it was fun for me but everyone else was really tense,” adds Samantha.

She will be leaving for the tournament on Thursday. The competition will take place at Loyola-Chicago. The same school is known for their Cinderella run in March Madness. Her dad says it may lend a hand to good luck, “We look for little omens for that. We’re hoping Loyola’s run is another one here for us.”

While Samantha says feelings are already starting to set in. “I’m kind of nervous but I’m calm because I probably won’t win but if I do it’ll be awesome.” 

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