HE HAS reached the top in basketball, but at 88 years old, Ray Ellis is most happy coaching beginners in the sport.
The former World Masters Games referee is teaching kids in the north of the shire about respect, teamwork and sportsmanship, one hoop at a time.
While Ray said he was "thrilled" to be chosen to referee a grand final gold medal game at the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney, the president of Ocean Shores Basketball Association said his "main love" was coaching beginners level at the local primary school.
"To witness the joy on the faces of the kids when they score their first basket, and to witness their progress is a wonderful reward," he said.
Before moving to Ocean Shores 16 years ago, Mr Ellis spent 25 years with Parramatta Basketball Association, refereeing senior games and coaching juniors.
Former students have reached State representative level, while another became a National Basketball League referee.
"I was appointed to referee NSW State League games and on retirement was granted Life A-grade referee standing," said Ray, who had the honour of throwing the ball at Byron Sports & Cultural Centre's first basketball game on Friday night.
Ray's passion for the game is as strong as it was the first day he played 66 years ago.
"Compared to so many other team sports, basketball is basically a non-contact game and is free of many life-long injuries experienced in other games, which means it can be played to more advanced years," he said.
Kindergarten, primary and high school students can sign up to Ocean Shores basketball by calling Ray on 6680 4053 or Michelle on 0406 764 816.