By Ian Ferguson
Thanks to Blaine graduate Luke Ridnour, who went on to become an NBA basketball player, Blaine elementary students can now shoot on hoops that adjust to suit their size.
New backboards in the BES gym adjust from 10 feet to 8 feet tall, allowing kids to learn the sport at a younger age. Ridnour donated proceeds from his summer basketball camp in Blaine to help pay for the adjustable backboards.
“We’re always looking for good causes to support in the community, and this seemed like a necessity. The old hoops were too high for the younger kids,” Ridnour said.
Blaine High School athletic director and assistant principal Wayne Vezzetti said Ridnour had asked what the school district needed in terms of athletic upgrades, and Vezzetti suggested the adjustable hoops. The hoops cost about $10,000 to purchase and install, Vezzetti said.
“Shooting on a lower basket helps younger kids learn better form,” Vezzetti said. “We host kids leagues such as the Boys & Girls Club of America that are supposed to play at 9 feet. With these adjustable hoops, they can play the full court at regulation height.”
Vibetech Specialties out of Portland installed the hoops over Christmas break. In addition to adjusting up and down, the backboards also fold out of the way to make room for volleyball games and other events.
Elementary physical education teacher Dan Persse said the new hoops will help him teach the sport to younger kids.
“In P.E., the ability to accommodate different ages and abilities is huge,” Persse said.
Ridnour will hold the Luke Ridnour Basketball Camp again this summer, although dates have not been set. The camp allows kids ages 6–12 to learn basketball and life skills, and shoot around with NBA veteran Luke Ridnour.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Ridnour said. “We always have a big turnout, and it’s great to see the kids learning and having a good time.”
Ridnour has also used camp proceeds and his own money to support other causes in Blaine, such as the pavilion and recreation space being built next to the Blaine Senior Center. Recently retired after 12 years in the NBA, Ridnour said he is enjoying spending time with family.
“I know Luke has a lot of passion for Blaine hoops,” Vezzetti said. “It’s great to see him so involved in giving back to the community.”