Six years ago, Jim Preston, assistant principal at Mt. Spokane High School, found a way to channel the fierce rivalry between Mead High School and Mt. Spokane to benefit a worthy cause.
Since that time, the annual Hoops for Hope basketball game has raised more than $16,500 for Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Preston, who lost his mother to cancer, said, “We’ve all been impacted by this disease.”
This is no ordinary basketball game. Organized by the student leaders from both high schools, the teams consist of faculty members from Mt. Spokane, Mead, and Mountainside and Northwood middle schools.
Students and their families fill the bleachers to root for their teachers.
And the cheerleaders? They are faculty members as well.
Local businesses have played a big part in the fundraising efforts. This year, for $5, folks can purchase raffle tickets for prizes that include two autographed Gonzaga University basketballs, Chiefs hockey tickets and restaurant gift certificates.
Mt. Spokane is undefeated. “We’re seeking to keep our record intact,” said Preston. But he stressed winning isn’t the focus of the event. “The great thing about it is that it’s the Mead community coming together for a great cause.”
Mead Principal Ken Russell agreed. “It’s not meant to be a fierce competition,” he said. “We’ve got enough of those. Raising money is No. 1.”
Asked about the Mead team’s chances this year, Russell said, “Well, we’re confident we’re going to have a good time.”