“It’s the Christmas of summer!” exclaimed Cliff Poffenroth, Hoopfest regular. And boy, did Cliff get his Christmas present early this year, being the winner of not only his Hoopfest bracket, but the Toyota Half-Court Shoot Off as well!
Imagine 107 degree heat. It’s hot, it’s mid-afternoon on Sunday and you’ve played and beaten your body down for two days. You just won your bracket, but hold on… you’re not done yet. You still have the Toyota Shoot Off Finals. Lucky for you, you’re only a half a mile away, being up at the North 60 courts. So why not take a quick run through the crowded park to the Toyota contest?! Your legs are tired. Your arms are shaking. You’re gassed. But you use every part of your body as you struggle to shoot the ball the distance… and it goes in! You’re now the winner of a brand new, fully-loaded Toyota Corolla S.
This is what happened for Cliff on June 28, 2015. Lucky for Hoopfest, we got a quick interview with him after.
“I felt terrible,” Cliff joked. “I was gassed; we had just won our game and I had to run straight down to shoot. I thought I might literally fall over!”
Having lived in the area for practically all of his life, this Spokane native started playing in Hoopfest when he was just 10 years old. 22 Hoopfests later, Cliff still gets excited for the event weekend.
For him, it truly is a family affair.
“My dad, my whole life, would always give me $10 to shoot at the Toyota Shoot Off,” Cliff recalled.
This tradition has carried on, even after Cliff’s father passed away just a few months before this year’s Hoopfest. His dad not only supported Cliff in the shoot off, but his parents would come downtown every year, rain or shine, heat and wind, to cheer on Cliff and his teammates.
“They never missed a game.”
The running joke for Cliff’s friends and family after he sunk his half-court shot was that “his dad must have willed that baby in there this year!”
But let’s not forget Cliff’s other support, his number one 1 fan, better half and wife Lindsee. “She’s a great sport… carrying the backpack, bringing the waters,” said Cliff. “She was the savior this year.”
With the special circumstances of extreme heat, having that support, be it friends, family or other fans is always important.
Commercial lender by day, Cliff is active in the sports community, specifically now around his kids. Basketball, baseball, soccer… Cliff has coached it all. And he takes on a new role this year as coach for his son’s AAU basketball team.
Aside from the weekend tournament, Hoopfest is no new organization to Cliff and his family. After having been the men’s assistant coach for the Ferris High School basketball team, where he lead them to back-to-back championships and a 58-0 run, Cliff was asked to join the prestigious coaches at the annual summer Fitz Camp, presented by Hoopfest. He has now been volunteering his time as a Fitz Clinic coach for 5 years.
“It’s the best camp you can find in the region,” said Cliff. “You’re not going to find a camp with that level of coaching. It’s great for basketball and great for the kids!”
So year round, Cliff gets his fix of Hoopfest. And he explains how it’s never too early to start thinking and planning for the year ahead. Over the course of his Hoopfest play, Cliff has switched up his team a couple of times, with the exception of one player, Alex. Together they have won 4 years. “You have to form your Hoopfest team,” explained Cliff. “There’s definitely a formula to getting your team together. It’s literally like breaking up with a girlfriend when you change up the roster.”
This year, Cliff’s Seattle teammates were not able to make it, so he found himself once again changing up his team. However, they’re ready to be back for next year… posing the question, which team will Cliff go with?
“It was a really good Hoopfest,” Cliff Poffenroth admits reminiscently. “I don’t think I could top that.”
However, when asked if he’s ready to hang up his shoes on this epic Hoopfest year, Cliff responded, “we’re going to play until we’re unable to walk.”
With that said, it’s not a question of “if” Cliff will be back for Hoopfest 2016… it’s a matter of “with whom?”
Cliff’s Hoopfest words of wisdom:
- For those attempting the half-court shot at the Toyota Shoot Off, pace off two steps behind the line so you never have to worry about your foot stepping over… that way you can focus your eyes on the basket and not the line.
- For those playing in the tournament, don’t have any beers on Friday night, depending on how serious you want to play.
- But seriously… win or lose, enjoy the game. Talk to the other teams beforehand. Introduce yourself. Anytime you play competitive sports, it’s going to get a little chippy, but you can help to mitigate a lot of those issues ahead of time.
- And lastly, thank your court monitor. Not only because you should, but it shows your kids the importance of thanking them.