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Hoopfest seeks more court monitors before next weekend’s tournament

June 16, 2022 Updated Thu., June 16, 2022 at 10:01 p.m.

Volunteer court monitor Jack Jaeger, center, asks Sofia Combs, left, of Bacon and Eggs what she wants to call before the reveal of the coin toss, June 30, 2018, before the game between Bacon and Eggs and Hoopn Like Its Hot. Hoopn won the game.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Volunteer court monitor Jack Jaeger, center, asks Sofia Combs, left, of Bacon and Eggs what she wants to call before the reveal of the coin toss, June 30, 2018, before the game between Bacon and Eggs and Hoopn Like Its Hot. Hoopn won the game. (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Hoopfest returns to the streets of Spokane in eight days after a two-year hiatus, but the largest three-on-three basketball tournament in the world is missing some of the “glue that holds the whole thing together.”

Chad Smith, Hoopfest director of volunteers and staffing, said organizers are looking for 50 to 75 more court monitors to mediate games. He said he hopes to have 400 monitors at Hoopfest, which is June 25 and 26.

Smith said monitors are in charge of timekeeping, filling out score and bracket sheets and keeping the games safe.

He said high school students and adults play on the majority of the courts, and those players call their own fouls during games. Monitors step in if teams cannot settle a dispute on their own.

No experience is necessary and monitors must be at least 15 years old, Smith said.

“It’s a fun job,” Smith said. “It’s our most interactive position we have, and it’s our most popular position that we have. So some years we just need a little bit of help. This is one of those years, and hopefully we’ll get a pretty good response.”

He said monitors on youth courts, which are for grades two through nine, call all fouls. So having some basketball experience is helpful.

“We just need people who are good at interacting with people that want to be out there and have a good time and keep the game safe so that everybody is still walking come Monday morning,” Smith said.

He said he feels “pretty good” that enough court monitors will sign up in time. In his 21 years with Hoopfest, Smith said he has never started the weekend without enough monitors. If there is a shortage, he said a monitor might cover more than one court at a time and perhaps parents can officiate some youth courts.

Smith said organizers always are looking for volunteers up until game day. However, he said this is the first time in a number of years they were short monitors and needed a last-minute plea for help.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the tournament to cancel the last two years, so Smith said the event is not on as many people’s minds this year.

Meanwhile, volunteer numbers for the other Hoopfest positions are looking good, he said.

“Everything looks great,” Smith said. “We’re just super excited to be back. That’s kind of the message this year. Everything is falling into place.”

Player registrations also are down.

Smith said around 3,500 teams, or about 14,000 players, are signed up to play on 273 courts in and near downtown Spokane. He said up to 7,000 teams have played in the tournament in peak years.

“I don’t know that we’re ever going to get back to 7,000,” Smith said. “I don’t know if we want to get back to 7,000, but it would be nice to build this thing back up.”

To register for a court monitor position, visit spokanehoopfest.net and click on “COURT MONITOR APPLICATION.” Monitors will participate in an orientation prior to Hoopfest.

Smith said he hopes to have monitor rosters set by early next week so interested applicants should register by this weekend. Monitors receive a package of Nike gear, including shoes, a T-shirt, shorts and a hat.

“We can’t do this without our volunteers,” Smith said. “The court monitors, you know, they’re the glue that holds the whole thing together.”

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