GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge High School Varsity Basketball Coach Liam Carr — with not one senior-year player on the squad — believes something has come his way that will make his young team better, and that is a gift given in memory of a former GRHS basketball player.
The gift is a computer-operated machine called “The Gun,” which shoots out basketballs to practicing players. It can also be programmed to direct subsequent passes to different areas of the basketball court because the “cannon” which fires the basketballs is on a turret.
“A lot of college programs don’t have this machine,” Carr said this past weekend at a team practice in the high school gym. “Everything we do is predicated to making ourselves a better team. Used properly, this is a nice tool.”
Carr said he started thinking about getting “The Gun” after he saw one at Verona High School when the two teams met for a game. He said Verona had a good team and he spoke to their coach about it. It was then that fundraising began for GRHS to get its own “Gun.”
“The Gun” will have a plaque commemorating it as a gift. According to Carr, the plaque will read: “This machine is dedicated to Richard L. Anderson, GRHS Class of 1953. It was made possible through generous gifts from Birgit Anderson, Glen Ridge Rotary, and GRHS Class of 1953 alumni Robert Hayes and Joan Page Hayes. GRHS student-athletes will be forever grateful for your loyal service and exceptional support.”
In a telephone interview, Joan Hayes said she and Richard Anderson, who died earlier this year, were classmates at GRHS. They graduated in 1953, in a class of 64 students.
“It was the first class in the new auditorium, if you can believe that,” she said in a telephone interview earlier this week, adding that that auditorium is now part of the Glen Ridge Middle School.
“Dick was the captain of the basketball team,” she continued, “and he went to Amherst College. Basketball has always been his love.”
Hayes said Anderson’s widow, Birgit, suggested to her and her husband, Bob, that if they wanted to make a donation in Anderson’s name, they could make one to Amherst College.
“At that point,” Hayes continued, “they were raising money for that machine. Dick was part of the Rotary and the Rotary decided to give money for the machine. We called Birgit and asked her if we could give the money to the machine instead of Amherst. She said Dick would have loved that.”
Carr would not divulge how much the machine cost but said he received a phone call about what the Hayes’s and Anderson’s widow, who also wanted to contribute to the “The Gun,” were up to.
“The pieces fell into place, almost by accident,” Carr said.