Salo goes back to his roots

Luke Salo films a basketball training drill at his hometown court in Saginaw, Minn. The owner of Salo’s Showcase is filming the training videos and providing them to his clients and others during the coronavirus pandemic.

SAGINAW, Minn. — The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped Luke Salo from training local basketball players through his business — Salo’s Showcase.

Salo, a 2007 Cotton graduate, went back to his roots and found a way to train, while also maintaining social distancing guidelines now in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

With most gyms, basketball courts and training facilities being closed, the 31-year-old thought of his former outdoor hoop and court where he spent many hours while in school at AlBrook (grades K-11) and Cotton (grade 12).

He proceeded to shovel off the court by hand nearly two weeks ago and is now filming training videos with his cellphone camera set up on a tripod.

“That’s where I grew up training myself,’’ Salo said of the Saginaw court, which is one mile from where he grew up. “This is a perfect opportunity for me. “It’s the best way to keep them (my clients) doing what I’m doing.’’

Salo knew he had to do something when the high school section and state tournaments were being canceled in March. “They didn’t get to see a true end to their season,’’ he said, and were denied a chance to win a state championship.

“It’s difficult circumstances. No one really knows how to deal with it,’’ said Salo, who also played basketball at Mesabi Range College.

He knows a couple of things for sure, though. The athletes need to keep the game in their lives and now is when “everyone wants to get in their work.’’

The athletes are using the training videos to their advantage, he said, and are sending their own videos back for some advice from the veteran trainer who works with about 50 kids right now.

“I want video back. I want to see them doing it,’’ he said of the video portion of Salo’s Showcase. “The kids are really liking it.’’

In a lot of the videos, some clients don’t have a hoop or a big area for their drills. Nonetheless, “you can always find a spot ... where you can dribble a basketball.’’ Many times, he added, the work is being done in the driveway or the person’s basement.

Any location is pretty much a good one to do the training, according to Salo. “Get to any hoop you can find.’’

And while the coronavirus is closing training facilities, Salo said he will be providing the videos for free until it lifts to his clients and anyone else that wants to use them. “It’s just a way to keep the game going for them.’’

Anyone that is interested can contact Salo through his Salo’s Showcase Facebook page.

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Injuries during his college playing career at Mesabi Range (torn labrum) and St. Scholastica pushed him toward training as a way to keep the sport in his life. He uses a variety of schools and facilities across the Range and saw his client base grow from 25 athletes last year to 50 this year.

Salo has enlisted the help of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Brandon Myer and other pro players he knows to train some of the athletes, as well. They do camps in school facilities, he said, such as Deer River, Bigfork and elsewhere.

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Salo, who now lives in Duluth, loves thinking about the old outdoor court “where his passion started. I tell everyone about this place.’’

He knows a lot can be accomplished with a blacktop surface and two hoops.

“You can really go back to basics. It’s a really cool opportunity for me to go back to where it all started.’’

With his job at the Husky Oil Refinery in Superior shut down temporarily, Salo plans to grow the video side of the business as much as possible, which will help him keep busy.

“It’s something that I’m going to incorporate going forward.’’

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