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Hanging On To Hooops Basketball Festival Could Have Faded And Died, But Organizers Have Formed A Partnership To Keep It Airborne

Like many a noble idea, Valley Hooops nearly became a victim of its own mismanagement.

March of Dimes officials, who put on the annual fund-raising event, admitted as much and sought out knowledgeable help and volunteers.

Enter Valley YMCA director Pat Estes, who saw beyond Valley Hooops’ immediate problems to long-term possibilities.

The two organizations have entered into a partnership in an effort to generate more community interest in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Greater interest and participation in the fund-raising event would benefit both financially.

“The Valley is pretty sensitive about maintaining its own image,” said Estes. “We kind of jumped on the bandwagon and said, ‘Hey, keep it in the Valley.’ We would like to ensure its success.”

He enlisted the help of Harry Beckous, a Valley businessman and YMCA supporter, as tournament director.

“Harry has been coaching as long as I’ve been involved and easily is my most requested coach in three sports,” said Estes. “He’s a person who’s in it for the kids.”

Beckous, who owns Contractors Specialties in the Valley, is approaching his task with gusto.

“They told me it would take two or three hours a week,” said Beckous. “It’s taken two or three hours a day. I’m new at this fund-raising stuff. It’s kind of fun.”

Patterned after Hoopfest, Valley Hooops was launched four years ago in the University City Shopping Center parking lot.

Instead of playing in the July heat, as in the past, the event has been moved to the weekend of Sept. 23-24.

Valley Hooops will conflict with a similar tournament at the Southeast Spokane County Fair that same weekend, but Beckous is hoping it can grow from just over 90 teams to 320 on 20 courts set up in the lot just west of Lamonts.

Registrations are being taken now. Cost to enter is $60 per team.

Like Spokane’s Hoopfest, teams will be classed by gender, age, size and ability. One difference is that youth teams will enter by school grade, as is YMCA sports program custom, and not age.

Because of its past, injecting new life into Valley Hooops hasn’t been easy. Former March of Dimes employees kept no records of the previous three Valley Hooops events.

“The thing I’m fighting is that it was so poorly run the first three years.” said Beckous. “We were on the brink of losing it. But the people there now are real go-getters.”

Beckous’s long-term goal is to turn Valley Hooops into a weekend-long family outing.

“Because of the bad reputation of the past we want this to be a festive occasion that you want to take the family to as opposed to watching a team and taking off,” he said.

Beckous said there will be shooting games, dunk tanks, 10-12 food concessions and music provided by a local radio station.

The new board has secured backboard sponsors for the baskets currently being stored at Lamonts.

They’re still seeking 100 volunteers from businesses and service clubs, particularly for a special events chairperson to coordinate 3-point and free throw contests and other activities.

Beckous’s hope is to incur zero expenses so that both charities will better benefit.

“When I first got involved I thought, if I’m doing it for charity this is how you should be thinking, because little expenses add up,” he said.

One snag is finding a sponsor for T-shirts, which is the biggest cost.

Properly outfitted and properly run, Beckous sees no reason that Valley Hooops will become a success.

“It is something the Valley needs and the community can get behind,” he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

Tags: hoops

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