Thousands of people spent Friday gearing up for Hoopfest.
For organizers, preparing for the world’s largest three-on-three basketball tournament is no small undertaking.
“Some of the things we’re doing is … assembling and staging all of our hoops and court taping, and getting all of the vendors and exhibitors moved in and all ready to go,” said Hoopfest Marketing Manager Kirsten Davis. “Then, also in terms of players, getting all the teams checked in.”
In the days leading up to Hoopfest, many organizers put in 10- to 15-hour days, she said. They have to coordinate 3,000 volunteers, train court monitors and get about 7,000 teams checked in. Friday night, volunteers set up courts spanning 42 city blocks.
“We’re ready,” Davis said. “This is what we work really hard to do, and we have the greatest volunteers ever that make this happen.”
Players – about 28,000 of them – spent time Friday preparing for the big weekend, too.
“We just got done with a basketball camp at Gonzaga University,” said Justin Bowlby, of the team Nighthawks. “We learned how team chemistry works. We’re in it to win it.”
While some players are highly competitive and shoot hoops in the days leading up to the tournament, many are mostly concerned with having a good time with friends and family when they’re off the court.
“This is kind of a party weekend for us, honestly,” said Mark Spiegelberg, of Team Adams, who added, “Once we’re on the court, though, we’re pretty competitive. We want to win.”
Jonathan Douglas and his teammates came from Western Washington for the tournament.
“We’re in the recreation division, but we take it pretty seriously,” joked Douglas, of the Seattle Super Chrons. “We’re pretty confident.”
Many filled their bellies ahead of the tournament at the Foodfest food court set up in Riverfront Park, which will be open through the weekend. Downtown streets began filling with Spokanites and out-of-towners, as many checked out Spokane’s businesses, bars and restaurants.
Jesse Gonzalez, who is playing on a team with his brothers, Noe and Stevan, traveled from Toppenish, Wash., and walked around downtown after checking in. For the brothers, the tournament has become a family tradition.
“It’s the biggest three-on-three basketball tournament in the world,” he said. “You can’t pass this up.”