In the month of February, the month of love, we’re celebrating couples for whom Hoopfest holds a special place in their relationship.
True love is playing in an estimated 39 combined Hoopfests.
Both Alexis and Nicole Alexander have played in Hoopfest each summer they’ve been able since they were first introduced to Hoopfest as kids.
Of course as youth, the two had no idea their future spouse was roaming the same Spokane streets during that hallowed final weekend in June. But into adulthood and in their eventual marriage, they’ve continued to prioritize Hoopfest as an annual highlight.
The Alexanders met in middle school in Medical Lake, just outside of Spokane. It wasn’t until high school though that the couple began to notice each other.
Conveniently (or at least it came to be convenient), Nicole’s dating relationship with one of Alexis’ good friends ended, at which point, Alexis took advantage of the open door. Despite Nicole not liking ribs, she and Alexis spent their first date in 2000 at Tony Roma’s Steakhouse, only to watch him polish off a rack.
“I wore a bib and cleaned every piece of meat off of the bones while smothering my face in barbecue sauce,” Alexis said. “After that she couldn’t get enough of me and the rest is history.”
Both Alexis and Nicole played sports at Medical Lake High School. Nicole remembers watching him play basketball her freshman year, and only noticed Alexis because he was wearing the tightest shorts on the team. Alexis loyally attended Nicole’s high school games as well, which she claims weren’t much to see. To Alexis, that didn’t seem to matter.
Right out of high school, Alexis was drafted by the Kansas City Royals baseball club and spent three years playing on its minor league teams, including the Spokane Indians. With the exception of the stint in Spokane, the duo spent much of those years dating long distance.
Needless to say, Nicole was relieved when Alexis traded in baseball for football and started his collegiate career at Washington State University in Pullman, which made for a shorter commute to one another than it had been previously, but perhaps still not ideal. Finally, as Nicole puts it, Alexis selected to transfer to Eastern Washington University, to be close to her and to continue his football career, rounding him off as the true area-athlete between his time with the Indians, Cougars, Eagles and of course playing at Hoopfest. Both Nicole and Alexis have been in greater Spokane ever since. Nicole graduated from EWU in 2006 and Alexis graduated in 2008, but went on to get his master’s degree, also from EWU, in 2014.
In 2010, the couple finally culminated ten years of dating and was married in Spokane.
They settled in Spokane where Nicole is a marketing specialist for Zak Designs and Alexis is an electrical engineer for Avista. Through EWU, Alexis is a mentor for the career mentoring program in engineering. He’s also volunteered with youth in various other community arenas.
The Alexanders still enjoy athletics year round; they both play recreational volleyball, Alexis plays softball, enjoys hunting and plays basketball fairly regularly. For Nicole on the other hand, playing at Hoopfest on team “Back dat pass up” has become her momentous court appearance each year.
Despite both loving Hoopfest and basketball, the couple chooses not to play together. Alexis recalled that the one year they did team up, they lost in the finals. In general, Alexis likes playing in the elite divisions, while Nicole sticks to the standard divisions. Whether playing together or not, both Alexanders have had many a successful Hoopfests, some of which have ended in winning their respective brackets—an accomplishment that may appear easy, but is only achieved by an exclusive few.
“Hoopfest is an amazing event for the community and its members,” Alexis said. “It makes a lasting impact on everyone who experiences it. I have friends who travel from the other side of the country to come back and play in Hoopfest. Where else will you find people willing to risk serious injury for a T-shirt [but] Hoopfest?!”
We’re excited to host the Alexanders once more on the streets of Spokane this summer.
Don’t miss out on the fun yourself—registration for Hoopfest 2015 opens Friday, March 13. For more information visit spokanehoopfest.net.