Tim O’Doherty, owner of O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, has been playing in Hoopfest for 26 years now. Aside from playing in the tournament, he is also a store owner and sponsor—all in the same weekend.
“It’s like being married. When it seems to work on so many levels you keep doing it.”
Behind St. Patrick’s Day, Hoopfest weekend is the largest business day in the year for the Irish Grille. “I’ve always tried to put a portion of my money where my heart is. And probably the best example of that is my faith. Even when times are hard I try to give money to my faith and that’s how I feel about Hoopfest. They send a lot of business our way. So for me it makes total sense that a portion of that should go back to keep the event going.”
While the demand for Irish food is through the roof over Hoopfest weekend, Tim says that there isn’t a lot of demand as a sponsor over the weekend—creating more time for Tim and his team to hit the asphalt. “I’m a football player that plays basketball and that’s reflected in my play. I love it. I even like some of the arguing.”
Growing up with four brothers, Tim looks back fondly on his basketball days with his brothers. “Every basketball game I ever played involved mobbing, accusations, a little bit of anger and competitiveness.”
Don’t let the football background fool you, though. Tim dons something most Hoopfesters can’t and may never—a Hoopfest Championship shirt.
As crazy as the weekend can get for Tim and his crew, there is one night that stands apart from the rest. “That Friday night.” He says.
“The Friday night is when the family and friends arrive from out of town. Friday night is usually a beautiful weather night in Spokane. The volunteers are out and they’re setting up courts. We have customers on the patio asking, ‘Oh what’s this all about?’ And the anticipation of the possibility of actually winning this thing is building inside of me. Even at the age of 60 I’m thinking, ‘Well if things go just right I might win this thing.’ So for me Friday night remains my favorite night.”
This Friday night has been a favorite of Tim’s since the first year of Hoopfest. “I remember clearly the first year when they closed the streets. My brother and I (partner at O’Doherty’s) sitting on the patio and it was about 80 degrees and the moon was coming up as they were setting up the courts. We were drinking a beer and I said, ‘This is as cool as it gets.’ I mean here we have a patio in the middle of a basketball event in a major city. And all that combined just makes it something that I want to continue to be involved in.”