DEER RIVER — When Tatum Morrison won the 9-year-old girls division at the regional Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest earlier this year, she earned a trip to the state K of C tournament.
However, with the advent of the coronavirus in March, the state K of C contest was cancelled like everything else around the state. So, with the cancellation, the scores from the 12 regional contests from around the state were used to determine each of the winners of the age groups which range from 9 to 14 for boys and girls.
Morrison had nailed 20 of her 25 free throw attempts during the regional contest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids and that ranked her in first place in the state among all girls her age. Thus, she was awarded the state championship and was presented a trophy earlier this week. The trophy was presented by the state free throw committee at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Morrison, the daughter of Brandi and Mark Morrison, will enter the fifth grade this fall at King Elementary School in Deer River. She said it is exciting to be a state champion.
“I feel really good and I feel really excited about it because I am kind of young,” said Morrison, who just recently turned 10 years old. “It is exciting because it might inspire people who hear about it. I was excited to win the state championship and also because I was the first one in Itasca County to ever get it. I feel really good about it.”
Daryl Arola, the district and regional coordinator for the free throw contests in Northeastern Minnesota, said winning the state championship is a big deal. He said he tries to get all the schools in Itasca County to participate in the event.
“Tatum was the highest-scoring girl from all the schools in Itasca County, and she moved on to the district contest,” said Arola, who explained that students from the Hibbing/Chisholm area are also included the district competition. She then won the district contest to qualify her for regional shooting, and that is where she had her state-best 20-of-25 free throws.
“Even though she wasn’t able to go down to state directly – which would have been a lot more fun because it is kind of a big deal at the state tournament in St. Cloud with the trophy presentation and such,” Arola explained. “Maybe next year she can repeat and go again. She is a very good basketball player and I think she will be a player to reckon with in years to come. I think this is a fantastic award for her and I think she will probably be repeating in future contests.”
Mark Morrison, Tatum’s father, said his daughter is happy about the state title.
“It’s really cool; she’s spent a lot of time practicing,” he said. “She puts her time in; she works. She wants to be better than her brother and I might have to lower the shelf that we put their (awards) on.”
Morrison said she wasn’t shooting well before the competition started, but that all changed once it counted.
“I was shooting really good and making them,” she said. “I made like six in a row at one point.”
While only nine years old, she says she practices shooting the basketball an hour or two a day. She comes from an athletic-minded family where her father is athletic director at Chisholm High School and her older brother, Ty, was a member of the All-Area Boys Basketball Team as a sophomore for Deer River High School last season.
When asked if she thinks she is a good shooter for her age, she said, “Yes, I would say I am pretty good at shooting. I like the sport because you can maybe inspire people when you are older and the game can make you very athletic.”
Morrison said she plans to participate in track and field and volleyball along with basketball when she is older. She has never participated in track and she said she is uncertain what events she will participate in.
“I am really fast at running so my parents said I would be good at track,” she explained.
As for sibling rivalry with older brother Ty, Tatum said she owns bragging rights this time around.
“I have a bigger trophy but he has way more than me,” she smiled. “I am pretty sure that I will win a lot like my brother in the future.”