The Magic of Hoopfest… A Glimpse From Our Team

What is it that makes Hoopfest so special? So unique? Is it the hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe flooding the streets of Spokane for one weekend? Is it the thousands of volunteers coming together to support a community? Is it the reunions happening between friends and families? Or the new bonds created over the hot asphalt? It’s all of the above… and more. Get some insight into our team’s “favorites” about Hoopfest and why we love working year-round for this organization.

“My favorite part of working at Hoopfest is all of the people,” explains Chad Smith, Operations Manager of Hoopfest. “I enjoy seeing my fellow staff members on a daily basis and the thousands of volunteers whom I’ve met over the years.” Chad has been with the organization for over 15 years, and continues to bring people in with his enthusiasm and good nature. From referees at Ignite Basketball – our youth outreach program – to court taping on Friday night to Court Monitors Hoopfest weekend, Chad is always in need of good volunteers. Speaking of which, volunteer registration for Hoopfest weekend will open next month in February – so start thinking now of what you want to help out with!

“My favorite part of  the job is that things are constantly changing… with the Hoopfest site, AAU tournaments, etc.,” smiles Rob. “It gives you great opportunity to think of new things to try, new ideas to put out there and all the while trying to make it the best as it possibly can be.” Having just recently celebrated his second year on the job, Rob has been helping the organization for years. And having had 3 kids take part in AAU, Rob urges anyone who has not had a chance to come to our Championship Weekend, to come check it out! This year’s event takes place on February 18th and 19th with more details to come, so stay tuned!

“One of my favorite moments of Hoopfest weekend is when the National Anthem is played on Saturday and Sunday morning,” says Keli Riley, Office Administrator of Hoopfest. There’s something about that moment where the sounds of hundreds of bouncing basketballs in the streets silence to have our Nation’s anthem played throughout the 45-block site. It will give you chills!

“I have a special love for the Fitz Camp,” explains Giff Marleau, Program Manager. “While we focus a lot of our efforts in giving back in the form of basketball to those who may not be able to afford it or who are new to it, this is a great program for those kids that could possibly reach that next level of basketball. Not only are you making memories, but you really feel a part of their families and lives.” Giff has helped manage this program for years, getting to know all of the kids that come up through our AAU program, wanting to take their game further. The Clinic usually takes place each spring. More info to come soon!

“Talk about an organization that’s not only mission-based, but one that has a great balance of being established and having traditions, and being entrepreneurial to try new things… that’s Hoopfest! And that’s exciting!” says Bailee Neyland, Director of Brand Strategy and Business Development. “Not many people get to come to their jobs excited every day at the opportunity to impact a larger community in a positive way, but we do. From our youth outreach program to our community courts that we build, not to mention our big tournament weekend… we create experiences, memories, bonds…. every day. That’s special.” With such strategies as #Hoopfest365, you may have seen or heard Hoopfest out in the community a bit more, highlighting the many ways we are here in the community 365 days a year. If you have an idea for partnership or want to get more information on how you can be highlighted through Hoopfest, we want to hear from you!

Matt Santangelo, our Executive Director, sums it up well… “The excitement (people have for our programs) and the pride (we all take in our responsibilities)… that is the magic of Hoopfest. We have so many programs that are close to our hearts, from Special Olympics to Ignite Basketball and it’s that passion that keeps people going and keeps the community coming back for more.”

To be a part of the magic, make sure to check our website for opportunities of volunteering, playing and partnering with Hoopfest:

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