Wheeling native McCoid is always ready to shoot some basketball

We are now well into basketball season and unlike previous seasons, I haven’t heard as many questions about high school basketball rules as in the past, so I will supply you with something I find quite fascinating.

Most kids grow up fantasizing about scoring the winning touchdown, making the basket to win the game, hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the world series or the one I experienced, stepping to the foul line to win the game with no time left and no one else lined up. What if you stepped to the line knowing you needed to make fifty, yes 50 free throws in a row to win, and if you missed one, just one, you come back next year. You probably wouldn’t mind if you were someone that could toe the line at most any time and make 100 straight free throws or 50 3-point shots in a row. That’s without a miss. I realize that during these shots there would be no one playing defense but you don’t often hear of a golfer or a bowler making 100 consecutive fifteen foot putts or stringing together the same number of pin clearing strikes, and no one would be guarding them either.

I have met someone that can twirl this magic with a basketball but I must admit that I have seen him miss. Once. This amazing person, a Wheeling High graduate and former guard on the basketball team, is a multiple time world champion traveling throughout the country throwing down shot after shot with thousands of spectators and other competitors just waiting for him to miss. Just imagine the pressure knowing you can’t afford to miss just one or you lose, you step to the line knowing that you have to be perfect just to make a shoot-off. I have been entertained watching him make shot after shot with most hitting nothing but net. When most people talk about free throw shooting the first thing they tell you is to concentrate but this gentleman has mastered his shooting mechanics so well that he not only makes nearly every shot he takes, he tabulates his shooting statistics while he is shooting. Many people would have a problem just keeping mental count when someone else was shooting. These shooting stats are all recorded in a book after the days workout has finished.

The gentleman I am speaking of is Bob McCoid, a former college professor, who lives on a farm near West Alexander and competes in the world’s senior’s division and many times competes against competitors 25 years his junior.

When I asked what ages he shoots against, he replied, “What makes the difference? I plan on making every shot.” I forgot to mention that Bob is a very young 75 years of age and started national competition in 1998 at the age of 60 after 37 years away from basketball at the urging of then 82 year old Earl Klevins who also was an avid free throw shooter.

You probably aren’t aware that this sharpshooter, that rivals Robin Hood for accuracy, spends most of his training time at the Howard Long Wellness Center in Wheeling. That’s where I first witnessed his unique ability and have watched many days when I haven’t seen a single miss, free throw or three point shot. Bob’s mind set is not “I’m going to try not to miss” but rather “I expect to make them all”. During one competition his closest competitor missed a free throw and Bob told the person next to him “he just lost” and then stepped in and made all of his shots to win.

Recently, this past October, Bob competed in the World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, and Senior Olympics in Las Vegas on the same weekend and came home with three gold medals for 3-point shooting, free throws and Hot Shot. He also picked up two silver medals, one for combo 3-point and free throws. He was relegated to the silver because he missed one 3-point shot and one free throw. His overall percentages have improved since he had his knees replaced.

During his first practice shooting after his knee surgery he used a walker to get to the free throw line. During his shooting contest travels Bob has fired up free throws in more states than most NBA players and at a much higher percentage, if you have paid attention lately. He has perfected his art form to the tune of championships in twenty states.

I asked Bob if he is ever contacted to help instruct young basketball players in methods of improving their free throw mechanics but surprisingly it doesn’t happen as often as you would expect considering how many games are lost due to missed free throws.

Some of the numbers you will see here are hard to believe unless you have seen this magician in action. On February 8 of last year, he shot for 3.5 hours and was successful on 985 free throws out of 1000 and his personal record is 990 out of 1000 on April 30, 2001, so it is obvious that age is having little effect on his accuracy.

His record in 2012 for consecutive free throws is 304 with an all-time best of 354 and 2012 for consecutive 3-point shots is 62 and a best of 101. In answer to the question about his practice time, I was given figures for the past 10 year averages of 14,000 3-point shots per year and 20,000 free throws per year. Since 1998 Bob has made 100 or more consecutive free throws over 700 times. Just thinking about this number makes my arm sore.

Days after a lengthy discussion with McCoid, I fell asleep one night and couldn’t even out shoot him in my dreams. Regarding my high school experience at the foul line with no time left, both free throws went in but they drew more iron than a pipeline welder.

If you ever get the opportunity to observe Bob in action I suggest two things. First, congratulate him for his unique ability and accomplishments and most important if you mistakenly bet him a dollar you can beat him, just hand him the money and walk away.

Please contact me at basketball@ovac.org with suggestions for basketball discussion and rules topics.