Team Elks

Armed with a team of 60 State and Regional Directors, the Hoop Shoot is never short on leadership. Learn more about our team of 12 Regional Directors below, in order of seniority.

Meet Our Team of Regional Directors

Vernon Larson, Northwest Central Region 2

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 19

Number of Years as an Elk: 42

Hobbies: Golf, gardening, fishing, and travel.

Favorite Basketball Player: Larry Bird

Why He’s an Elk: “I am an Elk to help others—especially youth, veterans and those in need.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I love the Hoop Shoot because it’s more than just a sports program—it teaches goal setting, sportsmanship and leadership skills. It also encourages kids to develop friendships outside of their immediate spheres and to spend time with family.”

Fun Fact: “I spent a year teaching English in Tokyo, Japan. I am also the longest-serving state-elected constitutional officer in the history of South Dakota.”

Larry Torres, West Region 7

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 14

Number of Years as an Elk: 30

Hobbies: Watching the History Channel, playing golf and fishing.

Favorite Basketball Player: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, L.A. Lakers

Why He’s an Elk: “Growing up, the Elks made it possible for me to be involved in sports. I want to give back to the Elks the way they gave to me and support our local community.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “The Hoop Shoot provides each contestant a unique opportunity to learn to compete under pressure, develop self-discipline and set goals. These are very valuable skills youth need to be successful.”

Fun Fact: “I really enjoy going to work; I am a Health Environment and Safety Specialist for Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company.”

Randy Gragg, West Central Region 8

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 13

Number of Years as an Elk: 33

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, riding ATVs and my Harley Davidson, gardening, spending time with grandkids, and promoting the ENF in my community.

Favorite Basketball Player: Dennis Rodman

Why He’s an Elk: “I joined the Lodge after seeing its support of my son’s baseball team and hearing the 11 O’ Clock toast for the first time—I was spellbound by what I saw and heard. I became a Hoop Shoot Local Director right away and never looked back.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I love seeing children grow in confidence and sportsmanship as they progress through each level of the Hoop Shoot. Working with kids is the best.”

Fun Fact: “I played minor league baseball and fast-pitch softball for many years. My nickname was “Bases Loaded” because it seemed that every time I came to the plate, the bases were loaded and I cleared them!”

Richard Blinn, New England Region 6

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 11

Number of Years as an Elk: 41

Hobbies: Volunteering for the American Red Cross and Elks Golf Tournaments, traveling with my wife.

Favorite Basketball Player: Elgin Baylor

Why He’s an Elk: “To make things better for the community where I live.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “In 38 years, I’ve never lost my energy or love for the Hoop Shoot. The possibilities for contestants are endless and the friendships they form are life long—it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Fun Fact: “I love to cook (Italian is my specialty) and I love to travel. I once took a cooking class in New Orleans and my dream is to travel to Italy and eat my way across the country.”

James Dorris, Central Region 9

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 10

Number of Years as an Elk: 28

Hobbies: Golf, umpiring High School baseball games, and cooking.

Favorite Basketball Player: Diana Taurasi

Why He’s an Elk: “Elks are Benevolent. It feels great to support families at Christmas, help a veteran in need, and provide kids with healthy activities. I love meeting other Elks and learning from their ideas.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “The Hoop Shoot gives kids a chance to participate in a productive activity and teaches them to set goals. Participants also spend quality time with family and supporters, while learning life lessons. I love receiving graduation announcements or wedding invitations from former contestants—the connections we make as Directors can be long-term many times and I enjoy that.”

Fun Fact: “I don’t juggle sharp knives or flaming batons, and I’m terrified of heights. However, I have been to Lambeau Field three times (always in the FREEZING cold) and have been a paramedic for 29 years.”

James McNitt, Southeast Central Region 10

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 9

Number of Years as an Elk: 41

Hobbies: Woodworking and being involved in the activities of my Lodge.

Favorite Basketball Player: It’s a tie—Larry Bird and Oscar Robinson

Why He’s an Elk: “My father-in-law was an Elk and encouraged me to join. We soon became a team in Elkdom, supporting each other in all we did."

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I love the Hoop Shoot because it is a team event that my wife and I can participate in together. We enjoy the friendships we have formed with other directors at each level of the program.”

Fun Fact: “I have visited 49 of 50 U.S. States and plan to visit my 50th state this fall! My wife, Karen, and I love to travel.”

Donald Fassnacht, Great Lakes Region 4

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 8

Number of Years as an Elk: 36

Hobbies: Golf, bowling, volunteering at my Lodge and, of course, the Hoop Shoot.

Favorite Basketball Player: Larry Bird

Why He’s an Elk: “I believe in the Elks’ principles of charity, justice, fidelity and brotherly love. I also believe in our programs and the support we provide to students, veterans and youth.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “The Hoop Shoot is a youth program that serves all kids, regardless of their athletic ability. It provides youth a chance to compete, interact with peers and realize their potential.”

Fun Fact: “I was Elk of the Year in 1991 and received a distinguished award for service from the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation in 1993. I am an avid Purdue Boilermaker and I love helping others.”

Anthony Voulgaris, North Central Region 3

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 7

Number of Years as an Elk: 19

Hobbies: Being a referee for soccer and basketball games.

Favorite Basketball Player: George “Iceman” Gervin

Why He’s an Elk: “To help others! For me, this is the GREATEST reward of Elkdom.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I love working with kids and meeting families from all over the country.”

Lester Collins, Southeast Region 12

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 2

Number of Years as an Elk: 32

Hobbies: Working at the Elks Lodge, watching SEC football and basketball as well as the Atlanta Braves.

Why He’s an Elk: “Because I like what we stand for and I like to be involved with all the programs that we sponsor.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I love to meet the young people and their families and here their stories about how they got involved with the program. It's great to see them later in life when finish up with our program.”

Fun Fact: “When I go to my favorite Mexican restaurant everyone that works there know me and knows what I want to order before I even sit down.”

Steve Lucas, Northeast Central Region 5

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 2

Number of Years as an Elk: 33

Hobbies: Working on his 1969 Camaro, spending time with his granddaughter, and attending Penn State sporting events.

Favorite Basketball Player: Tim Duncan

Why He’s an Elk: “To be a part of a great organization that does so much for the young and the old in our communities”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “I enjoy working with the kids and meeting all of the great families along the way. I can't tell you the number of times I've run into former contestants and they've expressed to me how much fun they had through the Hoop Shoot.”

Fun Fact: “I joined the Elks in 1984 and have been a Hoop Shoot Director every year since. You might not know that ENF Director Jim O'Kelley and I are outstanding pool shooters and were rarely beat the weekend of Hoop Shoot National Finals.”

Joe Basil, Northwest Region 1

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 1

Number of Years as an Elk: 37

Hobbies: Basketball and football Official for 41 years. Retired paramedic/firefighter.

Favorite Basketball Player: Region 1 Hoop Shoot Contestants

Why He’s an Elk: “Because our Local Lodges make our communities a better place to live because of the many programs we implement.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “It is a great learning experience for our competitors. Many life lessons are learned through competition such as the Hoop Shoot.”

Fun Fact: “Held a national record for hitting 18 or 18 free throws in the 4th quarter of a state high school playoff game in 1974 that stood for 6 years while playing for Raymond (WA) High School. Now second place all time nationally and listed in the National Federation's High School Record Book”

Gregg Eleeson, Southwest Region 11

Number of Years as a Regional Director: 1

Number of Years as an Elk: 31

Hobbies: Playing basketball and helping at the Elks Lodge.

Favorite Basketball Player: Larry Bird

Why He’s an Elk: “I love and enjoy all of the Elks programs, specifically Veterans Service. As a Veteran myself, I am proud to say that Elks have done and continue to do great things for Vets.”

Why He Loves the Hoop Shoot: “After playing for 30 years, it is amazing to watch these young kids shoot. I really enjoy watching their different shooting styles and seeing the focus and determination.”

Fun Fact: “Played basketball for 30 years, three of those years were playing for the Army. Funny played and got paid.”


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