What better place for a basketball-centric workout than under the U.S. Pavilion in Riverfront Park with Hoopfest leading the charge?
Hooptown USA, a brand designed and ran by Hoopfest Spokane, organized a free women’s fitness event Monday that utilized basketball to help get hearts pumping. The other goal was to get more women involved with Hoopfest programming, Morgan Marum, Hoopfest’s director of corporate and media relations, said.
The first session of workouts was for girls under 18, and the second was for women 18 years and older. All skill levels were welcome and each session lasted 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, the adult session was a little lacking in engagement, but Marum is not worried about the long run. The goal for Monday was to build on former fitness events hosted by Hoopfest in Riverfront as well as help build up the female brackets during Hoopfest. The engagement to these events is expected to naturally tick up as they continue to be held.
Marum and Hoopfest sought the best women to lead the introductory female-focused, basketball fitness day. They decided on 6-foot-3 twin sisters Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth, former Gonzaga women’s basketball players who graduated this past weekend.
“They’re really wonderful leaders,” Marum said. “They’re really wonderful teammates and they’re really wonderful role models for these young athletes. So immediately, our young athletes session filled up, no brainer.”
The Wirths played for the Bulldogs for four seasons after moving to Spokane from Mesa, Arizona, so being able to give back to the community that welcomed them with open arms was an easy decision.
“Spokane has been so good to us,” LeeAnne Wirth said. “And just the support that we’ve gotten on the basketball front and all of our games and all of the events that we’ve done at GU is more than I would have ever imagined or hoped for.”
It was also important for both to see their young fans again after missing out on seeing them after games and at community events, like Hoopfest, for the past year-plus.
“I was just super excited to get to see people again,” Jenn Wirth said. “One of the best things about playing in Spokane is the fans and the support that we get. And we get to sign the autographs after the game for little girls. That’s something that means a lot to us. It was hard to not have it this year.”
Their gratification extended to gifting the joy of basketball to young girls and women as well, no matter how well they move with a basketball or what their shot looks like.
“I just think it’s amazing what they’re doing,” Jenn Wirth said of Hooptown USA and Hoopfest. “I think there are a lot of people that I know who kind of feel like they don’t have the skill set to play basketball. And so they kind of just stop. What Hooptown USA is doing is great because it is keeping people involved and meeting people and building the community. ”
When Marum sat down for coffee with the twins at the beginning of her planning, she made it obvious that Hoopfest and Hooptown USA wanted both twins to be actively leading the inaugural event.
“Everything is better when we’re together,” LeeAnne said. “And we have fun and we’re kind of on the same wavelength. So we like to do everything together.”
The Wirths walked their participants through warmups, dribbling and shooting drills and even a few fun competitive contests.
At the conclusion of the under-18 group, the twins took every girl up above the pavilion floor to a platform to shoot from 40 feet up. Of the approximately 25 shots, only one girl drained hers, Kilee Alternader.
Two of the other girls involved were 9-year-old Kinley Myers and her 6-year-old sister Kendall
Their mother, Kristen Myers, made sure they didn’t miss this unique opportunity.
“My girls have loved the Wirth twins since they started at Gonzaga,” Kristen Myers said. “And also they love being active. So it was an event we could not miss.”
The Wirths are headed home to Arizona next week and are training and waiting for the next stop in their basketball journeys.
“We are just playing things by ear and trying to figure out the next steps for us,” LeeAnne said.” “Just trust in the process, trust in God’s plan for our lives and figure out the next chapter for us.”