The streets of downtown Spokane transformed into the courts of Hoopfest on Friday night, but the fun began much earlier in the day with a variety of activities.
Hoopfest launched its inaugural Friday Practice Round in an effort to facilitate reunions, build a sense of community and help teams to get in some practice before the weekend. Executive Director Matt Santangelo was excited about how it turned out.
“We all know that [Thursday and Friday] are big for team check-in,” said Santangelo. “The energy’s great around downtown. This year we wanted to create some environments and activities for people to enjoy. So, we created our first practice round. We had some courts set up here on Post Street where people can come and get some shots up. It’s great to see people already up here doing it.”
Local craft breweries participated in Hopfest at Hoopfest, a small beer garden just outside Spokane’s City Hall adjacent to the Hoopfest store and check-in area.
“This is where everyone is coming back and you’re getting with your buddies, you’re going to try to go to a park somewhere in the area, put up some shots and then you’re going to go get a beer,” said Santangelo. “That’s what we’re trying to create here today; to just come downtown and do it with us.”
There were also a number of family activities. Parents and their children were practicing on Post Street when courts opened there at 11 a.m. Some of the lucky hoopsters participated in a ball-handling clinic with NBA player David Stockton.
Stockton is a local product who is more than willing to give back to a 26-year tradition that is now part of the fabric of Spokane. Other elite players did the same, visiting children’s hospitals and giving out mini-basketballs to spread Hoopfest joy.
“That’s a hidden tradition at Hoopfest; we’ve been doing that for a number of years,” said Santangelo. “It’s just a way to try to take Hoopfest up to the kids that can’t get down and enjoy it over the weekend. It’s one of my favorite parts of the event.”