Volunteer brigade makes Hoopfest happen

Volunteer brigade makes Hoopfest happen

Riverfront Park is slowly but surely transforming into ground zero for Hoopfest 2015, but without the many volunteers who pitch in every year the event simply couldn’t happen.

It takes 3,000 volunteers to put Hoopfest on, with many coming back year after year, rain or shine.

Between now and Friday downtown Spokane will have a whole new look. Though it appears like it all comes together magically it takes a lot of work to make it look seamless.

“Volunteers are needed all over to really make each things run smoothly with so many people in town,” volunteer Claire Heytvelt said.

Every year 250,000 players and fans pack downtown during Hoopfest weekend, a huge feat for an event that’s volunteer driven.

“There are six main staffers who work on Hoopfest year round but the rest of the event is entirely composed of volunteers from the operating committee to the court marshals,” volunteer Andy Wood said.

Many of the returning volunteers say it’s a tiring weekend, but the atmosphere is addicting to be a part of.

“I may never even play in Hoopfest but I’ll come back every year to help volunteer,” Wood said.

Wood is a veteran volunteer who has cleared his calendar for the last weekend of June sine he was 13. For the last five years, he’s traveled from California to participate.

“Every year I come back and it’s like seeing your extended family because everybody is so tight, it’s a really strong crew that comes together and get the event done,” he said.

One of the youngest volunteers, Jordan Rabe, says she’s volunteered every year since she can remember. She started because of her mom, but comes back year after year because she wants to.

“It’s just a fun event and we get to play basketball and I love basketball,” she said.

Simple words that ring true for even the oldest veterans.

“I think Hoopfest is always going to be something that’s a part of my life,” Wood said.

Matt Santangelo jokingly said that this year if you want to get in good with the court marshals bring them a Gatorade before the game, adding they’re the ones who have to be in the thick of things all day long and Hoopfest is doing whatever they can to make sure their volunteers are comfortable.