Wildcats pass off game ball in Rip City Relay

A ceremonial Portland Trailblazers game ball made a stop at Linfield College on its 216 mile journey to Moda stadium for the Blazer’s opening night on Nov. 1.

The ball began its journey on Oct. 29 in Coos Bay, Ore., and will end in Moda Stadium, the Blazer’s home court, on Nov. 2. The relay is an attempt to get the community excited about what the Trailblazers are doing.

At the start of every Trailblazers game, fans pass the game ball down from the 300 level seating. The relay expands the tradition statewide in an attempt to bolster fandom outside the city of Portland.

The relay was deemed “Rip City” after one of Portland’s many nicknames.

“Rip City” was allegedly coined by Bill Schonely, the Trailblazers’ play-by-play announcer, after a particularly difficult jump shot put the Blazer’s back into contention for the win during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971, the Blazer’s first season.

“The Portland Trailblazers are Portland’s team obviously, but they’re really Oregon’s team,” President Thomas L. Hellie said at the event.

“I think that it’s quite fitting that this event should be traveling from city to city in Oregon and especially fitting that it should be coming to McMinnville and Linfield College,” Hellie said.

“Linfield itself has a storied in athletics as well as academics,” Hellie said.

Linfield had two alumnae directly involved with event. Mandy Sitz, who helped organize the relay event, and Katie Hollen who now works for Moda Insurance. Both women are from the class of 2003, according to Hellie.

“We are grateful to them for remembering us,” Hellie said.

Larry Yoder, head of McMinville’s city council spoke after Hellie.

“It’s a pleasure to be a part of this part of the relay. I am so glad that you were able to make McMinville and Linfield College one of your stops,” Yoder said to the Trailblazer representatives in attendance.

“We have a great partnership with Linfield College and we enjoy the impact that the Portland Trailblazers have on the city,” Yoder said.

Several stops of the relay were public schools, where the Trailblazer and Moda Insurance representatives promoted, among other ideas, fitness, perseverance and excellence, even going so far as to award students and teachers who exemplified those traits.

The Trailblazers will tip off against the San Antonio Spurs for opening night at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Ryan Morgan/Senior Reporter