Blue Rapids Free Press by Trinda Chase
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On an incredibly cold Sunday afternoon, some hot shots were made at Valley Heights High School.
Bob Fisher, age 57 from Centralia, and Brandi Jo Roepke, a Junior at Valley Heights High School, paired up and broke the Guinness Book of World Records for most basketball free throws in one minute by a mixed pair making 44 (out of 49) shots. The current record of 34 by Michael Anderson and Katherine Oosthuizen back on August 17th, 2013 will stand until Guinness approves the 44 made by Fisher and Roepke, which can take 4-6 weeks.
For Bob, setting world records is nothing new. Currently he holds 13, which are all for basketball free throws: 2,371 in one hour (1,501 out of 1,744 right-handed, 870 out of 1,233 left-handed), 33 in 30 seconds, 50 in one minute, 92 in two minutes, 448 in 10 minutes, 44 in one minute alternating hands, 88 in two minutes alternating hands, 28 in one minute underhanded, 22 in one minute blindfolded, 37 in two minutes blindfolded, 49 in one minute standing on one leg, 29 in one minute by a pair using unlimited balls (with Garrett Steinlage), and 24 in one minute by a pair using 2 balls (also with Garrett Steinlage).
If you ask Bob, or either of Jo’s parents (Brad and Lynn Roepke, Waterville), they will tell you that Bob and Jo first met before basketball season this year. Jo recalls a different date. She remembers “meeting” Bob for the first time back on January 9th, 2010, when Jo was just a 6th grader. That was when Bob came to Valley Heights High School and set his first world record for free throws shot in one minute. Maybe it was being back at the original location that moved Bob to attempt to break his own record, which Bob’s wife Connie said they were not originally planning to attempt. Things were going his way and he beat his record of 50 making 52 (out of 75) shots in one minute. Bob didn’t stop there with setting records. With much help from Connie, Bob set the goal high with a new category record for the most free throws in 30 seconds while blindfolded making 21 out of 24. He attempted another new category for the most free throws consecutively made in one minute alternating hands. Guinness set the bar at 30 shots and Bob just missed that goal making 29. Once Guinness approves the records set on Sunday, Bob will hold a total of 15 world records and Jo will hold her first.
When Bob met with Jo for the first time, he was impressed with her shooting and casually asked her if she wanted to break a world record together. Jo was with her dad and they both thought why not. They met again in November for additional shooting training and thought maybe they could try to break the record over Christmas break. Their first practice attempt was made the day before, on Saturday, only practicing about 30 minutes. Jo said she was “very nervous to shoot side-by-side with the best free throw shooter in the world”. It didn’t take long for her confidence to build as they each started making shots in sync. Of course it was possible that they wouldn’t beat the record on Sunday; however, Jo said she “felt confident” that they would. Bob knew what it would take to beat the record as he and Dana Kramer, a Junior from Wetmore High School, had previously held the mixed pair record making 32 shots back on December 17th, 2011.
Lynn and Bob both summed up Sunday’s event as “good” and Jo thought it was “cool”. Brad felt like it “served as a motivator” and things Jo learned “can be taken out on the court”. He also agreed with Jo that overall the event was “really a cool thing”. Bob wanted to set the record with Jo because “it was available” and because he “thought it would help Jo get where she wants to go”. Since Jo can remember, her dream goal is to play Division I college basketball after high school.
Being the best free throw shooter in the world, holding over a dozen records, helps provide credibility for Bob that he’s put all his years of intense research into action and figured out what it takes to be a great shooter. But he is still learning and trains every day. And the desire to teach young athletes all over is evident just watching him around all of them that attended on Sunday. Hopefully teaching others what he has learned will only blossom and grow because it is clear he is successful at it. Jo describes Bob as an “awesome, great teacher” and knows he has helped her greatly just in their few meetings. Both Jo and her dad feel like from here Jo’s shooting percentages and confident will greatly increase, and she’s looking to have gained the ability to make a quicker shot. But Jo emphasizes the importance of remaining humble through all her successes as an athlete.
Does the future hold more records for either Bob or Jo? Bob states, “Since I failed at the consecutive alternating hands that will be my next challenge”. In February, Bob has been asked to shoot at the Baileyville Benefit Tournament and he is thinking he might set a record there. Bob feels like his determination to keep setting world records “should give people hope because I am just like everyone else…just an ordinary guy who learned late in life that it only takes three things to become good at anything: knowledge, practice and time”.
For Jo, she is looking to beat the most free throws in one minute by a female. The current record is 40, which Jo attempted to beat (unplanned) on Sunday and was able to get 35. She is confident that she can break the record with practice and using the techniques learned from Bob. And Brad is willing to organize another event for Jo, possibly in the spring or summer. He feels like it was not a lot of “work” but more “a lot of people” to make it work and wants to thank everyone that gave up their Sunday afternoon to come help. In the meantime, Jo will continue practicing hard getting a perfect balance of support from her dad (the one who is much more like Jo being critical and always pushing, looking for ways to improve) and her mom (the one Jo knows will provide her with compliments).