HAMMOCK: Gwinnett's hoops coaches shoot for a great cause

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

Shooting for a great cause

The idea was borrowed from a similar college basketball fundraiser, but credit Brookwood girls basketball coach Scott Terry for bringing free-throw competition for a great cause to a local level.

Terry is the driving force behind Shots from the Heart: Gwinnett Coaches Against Childhood Cancer, a fundraiser that has united the county's coaches in a fun, season long competition. There will be a champion, but the real winner is the challenge's beneficiary, the Amanda Riley Foundation (amandarileyfoundation.org).

"I thought it would be a neat thing to get coaches in Gwinnett County doing something like this," Terry said. "And for us, the Amanda Riley Foundation is near and dear to our hearts. We try to do as much as we can to help out that foundation."

Riley, coached in basketball by Terry, was a promising Brookwood athlete who was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at 16, fought it bravely for 405 days and passed away at the tender age of 17. Her parents now run a foundation in her honor that raises funds through a number of events each year. Its mission is to bring a smile to a child's face during his or her battle with cancer, as well as to providence assistance to families whose child has cancer.

The newest fundraiser involving Gwinnett coaches already is a winner financially for the Riley Foundation --the 40-plus coaches entered each paid a $25 entry fee, racking up more than $1,000 for the charity --but it also should be fun for the coaches involved.

Those coaches, some head coaches and some assistants, were placed into a bracket by Terry for the free-throw competition. In each round, coaches will shoot 25 free throws at his or her convenience (with an athletic department witness) and that score will decide the victor in a head-to-head matchup with another Gwinnett coach.

The majority of Gwinnett's schools are represented in the first shooting contest, which Terry hopes will grow in future years as more coaches hear about it. The idea is to crown this season's champion and recognize the Rileys at the Gwinnett Tipoff Club's season-ending banquet.

Between now and then, Gwinnett's coaches will be shooting free throws for a worthy cause. Terry is one of the coaches with a first-round bye this month --it seems like he deserves it --and he has no idea which coach is the early favorite.

"Carolyn Whitney, who played for Jan (Azar) at Wesleyan a few years ago, is back coaching there and we've got some good, young coaches like her participating," Terry said. "They may be tough to beat, but who knows? Maybe we'll get a dark horse winner."

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.