8th grade stars shine at Spokane AAU All-Star Game

Spokane AAU knows the importance of helping build kids both on and off the court from a young age. It was on display on Sunday, January 22nd when Spokane AAU teamed up with the Spokane Teacher’s Credit Union (STCU) to put on the 3rd annual 8th grade AAU All-Star Game.

The event was made possible through our proud partnership with STCU. In its second year as the All-Star game sponsor, which took place at West Valley High School, STCU’s contributions stretch far past Hoopfest weekend.

We hosted two girls teams and two boys teams, which were created simply on votes and nominations by their local AAU coaches. Note that there was no player limit per team.

As is tradition, we bring in celebrity coaches to lead each group of kids. The celebrity coaches this year? Parker Kelly, a former Eastern Washington and Gonzaga Prep star, and former Gonzaga basketball standout Shaniqua Nilles.

“Any event that empowers teens and happily recognizes their gifts is significant,” Nilles says. “I remember playing AAU, so for the Spokane Hoopfest Association to have me back as a coach brought back many memories about when I first fell in love with the game.”

Nilles led the boys and girls Spokane AAU team, while Kelly was at the helm for team Spokane Hoopfest. Nilles’ teams swept the day.

“The biggest thing,” she said, “was for them to enjoy the event and to be proud of themselves.”

Kelly jokingly blamed his teams’ losses on the coaching, quipping that he was out-coached by Nilles.

The two are still trying to get used to their newly familiar role on the sidelines leading the teams. From the afternoon full of great moments, which was their favorite?

Nilles’ favorite memory was “whenever I saw my team get excited for each other,” she said. “Teamwork and chemistry are so crucial to a team’s success, so to witness a group of girls and boys who were thrown together have those moments was special.”

Kelly noted two separate but equally impressive buzzer-beating half-court shots.

“It’s enjoyable to see what kind of talent is coming up through the ranks,” Kelly said. “These kids will all be in high school next year and it will be fun to keep an eye on their individual and teams’ success.”

The All-Star games were photographed by the experienced LEO’s Photography, which has been perfecting the art of student photography since 1923.

AAU Regional Basketball Club, a program of Spokane Hoopfest Association, is in its 28th season. We merged under a Board of Directors in 2002 and have fostered a basketball experience centered around celebrating athleticism, fair play, good sportsmanship and community involvement.

A prime example of celebrating community involvement is our event sponsor STCU… thank you!

Follow the All-Stars on their road to the Championship weekend, which takes place from February 18 to 19 at West Valley High School!

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