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Statewide shooting challenge keeps kids active, basketball skills sharp

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Posted at 8:02 PM, Jul 10, 2024

FAIRFIELD — When school starts in the fall, students will get a chance to share what they did over summer break. A lot kids will say they took time off, relaxed and took it easy. But not Leyton Bakken, an eighth grader from Greenfield.

"I wake up around 6 a.m. every morning, go to the gym and shoot about 1,000 shots," Bakken said. "And then I chill or do something outdoors the rest of the day."

Bakken spends about two hours every morning getting shots up, and so far this summer he’s released the ball nearly 30,000 times with an eye on a lofty goal before summer ends.

“I’m looking to take 40 or 50 thousand shots,” he said. “Just like to be as best as I can be and exceed limits."

But Bakken is not just doing this on his own. It’s part of a statewide shooting challenge hosted by 127 Sports Intensity and the Fairfield Basketball Club. There are 75 participants in the challenge, which runs from towns as far east as Baker and as far west as Superior.

Additional communities participating include Malta, Harlem, Shelby, Choteau, Belt, Fairfield, Greenfield, Simms, Frenchtown and Townsend. The challenge runs from May 1 through Aug. 24.

Throughout the competition, various prizes, awards, and incentives are handed out to recognize different achievements and milestones. These rewards help keep the participants motivated and engaged in the challenge.

Mike Schmidt, the athletics director at Fairfield High School, is running the challenge.

"I think this is the fourth year that we've done it. It started a little bit smaller with kids just in the local area, and it's grown a little bit bigger,” Schmidt said.

"So I've got an online spreadsheet and basically they just go in and they log in and then their parents sign off on how many shots they shot and it automatically computes it. So you can just look at them online and their public knowledge which leads to some friendly competition.”

There are different goals for each age group.

  • 1st-3rd Grade: 4,000 shots
  • 4th-5th Grade: 6,000 shots
  • 6th-8th Grade: 8,000 shots

But Bakken and another participant, Jack Rasmussen of Simms, have blown past the 8,000-shot mark with no signs of slowing down.
As of Tuesday, Rassmussen had recorded 32,698 shots while Bakken had put up 28,375 shots.

"But yeah, usually Jack puts down a thousand shots then I'll go out just to put some more up,” Bakken said. “And then it's just a fun little competition.”

And the competition will help when the shots start to matter more in organized games this school year.

"I've done it a couple years now, but every year I try to shoot more shots and get better,” Bakken said. “I can tell it makes a difference.”

Schmidt says some of the participants have gone above and beyond the goal of the challenge, but the ultimate goal is just to keep kids active.

"So the idea is just to get kids to shoot more than they would have if they didn't do the challenge,” Schmidt said. “Which might even be only 100 shots, but it's 100 more than they shot before they started."