Ask Chad Smith if he’s ever played in Hoopfest, and his answer is a quick “You don’t want to see a basketball in my hands!”
But now in his 14th year at the organization, Smith’s role plays a big part in making the asphalt of downtown Spokane in late June such hallowed ground. Smith is the Operations Manager at Spokane Hoopfest Association and is in charge of all volunteers, court monitors and marshals.
“As a volunteer coordinator, I see Hoopfest from a different perspective,” Smith said. “When I see all the monitors go through training without a hitch, or [when I see] volunteers really get something out of their experience, that’s memorable to me.”
Smith utilizes over 3000 volunteers each summer to put on the outdoor basketball tournament and downtown festival.
“Hoopfest is massive,” Smith said. “This event is so large—the largest of its kind—and to witness the effort and logistics is amazing.”
The same can be said about the event’s impact on the city of Spokane. The influence of Hoopfest far surpasses just one weekend. As an organization Hoopfest works hard all year to give back to the community.
“I think the various donations we receive speak for themselves,” Smith said. “We are able to support other organizations such as the Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls club.”
The Spokane Hoopfest Association puts on additional community basketball programs throughout the year including the Spokane AAU league, another element with which Smith has lots of involvement.
“AAU has given children an opportunity to see great players come out of their area,” Smith said. “AAU supplies an avenue to pursue their growth basketball wise in a constructive way. Athletics is an excellent tool for kids because it teaches them valuable skills, like teamwork.”
While, Hoopfest’s goal is to put on the best 3-on-3 basketball tournament on earth each June, the organization views its mission as something much bigger. It’s about bringing the public together for the sake of healthy competition and becoming better athletes and people in the process.
“The better the competition, the better the athlete,” Smith said. “AAU basketball is the biggest in the area and is full of great teams. Players can’t help but get better!”
That’s one of the many benefits of playing in Hoopfest as well. Under the summer sun and sizzling pavement, players (and spectators) are pushed to their limits. It’s these conditions that the Spokane community has come to love.
“I heard about Hoopfest from just being in Spokane,” Smith said. “You can read about it in the newspapers months in advance. I didn’t fully understand the hype until I actually journeyed to Riverfront Park for the event.”
That’s what makes Hoopfest such a rewarding place for Smith to be. His organization of volunteers and court monitors is vital to the success of Hoopfest.
Each year Smith is impressed and gratified by the amount of people who step up and make Hoopfest happen, even despite the exceptional effort, long hours and trying circumstances it can require. Something must be worth it for the community to come out again year after year. Hoopfest is just thrilling like that.
Jump in on the fun! Visit www.spokanehoopfest.net/volunteer to sign up today and score some cool Nike gear too!