Hoopfest 2023: More Than A T-Shirt

Going into Hoopfest 2023, I was just hoping for a win. When the dust settled on Sunday, I felt like our team scored many more victories than just quadrupling the on-court win total I was crossing my fingers for.

I felt like our team overachieved in a pretty competitive bracket. People in this photo include (from l-r) JJ Nazzaro, Amy Martin, Fr. Jeff Lewis, me, and Ryan Andrade.

How It Went Down On The Court

What an experience this past weekend was. The St. Mary Squad started off the tournament on Saturday morning with a tough 20-15 loss to the Rez Runnaz. We knew the team we played was pretty decent and didn’t let the small setback get us down. We would win our 12:30 p.m. game (20-14) and then return the next day ready for a big run.

A look at our finalized bracket. We came through the loser’s bracket to play in the championship game.

Our team notched two comfortable victories early Sunday morning and then held on for a victory at noon to successfully seal our loser’s bracket odyssey to the championship game. For the title we played our opening round opponent—the Rez Runnaz. After playing three games seemingly back-to-back-to-back we had little gas left in the tank for the team that was undefeated and had last played at 10 a.m. Although we fell short, we had secured second place and a coveted finalist t-shirt.

We brought home a t-shirt! Ryan, Amy, myself, and JJ sport our finalist t-shirts in front of the Hoopfest backdrop on Sunday afternoon (photo courtesy of Amy).

But just a little bit of context about all those victories: I didn’t have too much to do with them. My St. Mary Squad teammates and fellow Young Adult Catholic members were simply spectacular. Everything started with our lead scorer and athletic specimen JJ Nazzaro. Then we had our 2-point ace Ryan Andrade who would answer the 1-point baskets of our opponents with bombs from downtown. Last but definitely not least, we had our team’s heart and soul—Amy Martin. Because of Hoopfest co-ed rules, a member of the opposite sex must always be on the court so that meant Amy played every single minute of all six games we competed in. Not only did she have the guts to go the distance, but she was an incredible contributor on both sides of the ball and never stopped hustling.

Ryan’s flawless shooting form is captured as he drains a 2-point basket.

Me? I was the fourth man who would give JJ and Ryan breaks while trying to play some defense and pull down a rebound or two. It was an honor to share the court with my teammates.

Even though I contributed the least to our team, I am pretty sure my kids thought I was the MVP 😂

Playing For More Than Hoopfest Glory

But enough about our on-court exploits and team scouting report. Hoopfest 2023 was so special because our St. Mary team was playing for more than a t-shirt.

Our team came together because we wanted to give thanks to God, pay special devotion to our Blessed Mother, and promote the Catholic faith. Helping us with this mission was Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary in Spokane Valley. At coffee and donuts one Sunday as our team was starting to come together, Fr. Jeff said that St. Mary would sponsor us once our roster was finalized. However, our dedicated priest did so much more than just make sure that our registration and uniforms were paid for.

Fr. Jeff Lewis poses with our team after the first day of the tournament. What a blessing it was to have him as our team chaplain.

Fr. Jeff rode the shuttle downtown with us, cheered our team on from the sidelines, and hung out with us after the games. But most importantly, he was there as our dedicated team chaplain. He led us in prayer before/after each game, had the materials in his pocket to distribute the anointing of the sick if needed, and was on-hand to give blessings and answer questions to the numerous people who approached him. Regarding prayer, as Ryan said, it was such a peaceful way to begin and end competition while at the same time drawing other people in. In fact, before the tournament was over, we had everyone praying with us from an opponent to our kids to the court monitor.

Fr. Jeff Lewis rides the STA Hoop Loop shuttle with us after the Sunday games.

This mission to put God before Hoopfest glory motivated those associated with our team to make sacrifices. Fr. Jeff gave up his Sunday morning masses to accompany us. Ryan and JJ both left their close-knit Hoopfest teams to play for the St. Mary Squad. And Amy played through serious knee issues. What selfless commitments from some truly great people.

Amy, Sloan, Sid, and Fr. Jeff walk through Riverfront Park on Sunday. Fr. Jeff hung out with us throughout the tournament.

Team Bonding

Because we were all so invested in this opportunity, it came as no surprise that we had such a fulfilling experience that went beyond the streets of downtown Spokane. Prior to this weekend, we got together for a couple of practices. We also had a lively text thread that was full of planning, joking, and anticipating (sorry for all the countdown texts, guys).

Perhaps I was a little too excited to play in Hoopfest.

Between our first and second games on Saturday, Sidney provided us all refuge from the heat by taking us to the break room of her work which happens to be in the heart of the downtown area. The four of us, some of our families, Fr. Jeff, and Fr. David Gaines took time to just relax and chat. Some of this break was spent talking about faith matters and some of it was spent talking about other things. But it all equated to some really nice fellowship.

Thanks to my wife’s connections, we had access to an air conditioned “team room” where we could find relief from the baking hot streets of downtown Spokane. In this photo, Fr. David Gaines and Fr. Jeff Lewis join the four of us and some of our families for a nice break.

Later that night, Sidney and I hosted a cookout at our house. Once again, us players and our families came together for more fellowship on a beautiful evening. In fact, do you want to know how close this Hoopfest experience has brought us together? We were all comfortable enough to play the game Stir the Pot as a big group. Don’t know what that is? Look it up! 😂

We had a team cookout on Saturday night that was pretty dang relaxing.

Finally, the icing on the cake was that when the tournament was over, we gathered for mass that night. With Fr. Jeff’s permission, we wore our finalist t-shirts to the service and he even incorporated our team’s Hoopfest success into his homily.

Holding up the number “2” after earning second place in our bracket. What a great weekend it was.


Before I close out this post, just a few shout outs: First and foremost, thanks to our families. Whether they were supporting us at the games or watching children at home, I know the four of us really appreciated the opportunity to concentrate on our six games we played throughout the weekend. Thanks to our spectacular court monitor, Keith Miner, and his daughter/scorekeeper, Maddie, for taking such superb care of our bracket. These fellow St. Mary parishioners always kept everything under control and applied all the rules perfectly. And finally, thanks to St. Mary for the sponsorship of our team.

Special thanks to my wife for all she did to prepare/take care of our family during the Hoopfest weekend.

I am grateful for the special Hoopfest opportunity I had this year. Amy, JJ, and Ryan…thanks for making our team work and for putting up with my less than stellar basketball skills. Fr. Jeff…you went above and beyond for us, thank you. Now, with all that said, who is sore?!

Thanks be to God. Don’t Blink.

Back For Hoopfest 2023

I’m back! After not winning a game in Hoopfest last year, I am returning to Spokane’s signature event in search of a “W.” This weekend I will hoop it up on the streets of Spokane at the same Main and Post location I played at last year. But not everything will be the same…

I hold the 2023 Hoopfest player shirt while Sloan holds the Inlander Hoopfet guide.

This year I have a new team. With my siblings caught up in other obligations, I had to find different teammates. Luckily, I wasn’t a free agent for long. Instead of playing with my biological family this year, I am playing with my faith family. For Hoopfest 2023, I am representing St. Mary Parish and School with my good friends Amy Martin, Ryan Andrade, and JJ Nazzaro. We are bringing our love of competition and God to our bracket.

This year we are playing on the T-Mobile court. When I was downtown at Team Check-In yesterday I found our backboard. It is quite…pink.

A cool thing about our team is that we are legitimately sponsored by St. Mary. Fr. Jeff Lewis made sure that not just our registration fee was covered but our uniforms too. The tops we will be sporting this weekend have the St. Mary Spokane Valley logo on the front and a different Marian title special to each of us on the back.

Amy with our Hoopfest uniforms. I am wearing the Fatima top. Amy’s top pays tribute to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

We begin our Hoopfest quest at 10 a.m. on Saturday. You can find us on the T-Mobile court right in front of the P.F. Chang’s restaurant on Main. Depending on the outcome of our first game, we will play at either 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. and then will resume our ballin’ on Sunday. Insert our official team name (St. Mary Squad) into the Hoopfest app to follow our progress or just come watch us in-person.

This is our bracket. Come watch!

Thank you to St. Mary for allowing us to represent our faith-filled community this weekend. Let us pray that everyone participating in Hoopfest has a safe tournament. Hope to see you on the court! Don’t Blink.

Summer Honey Thursday Rundown

Before I address the present, let me quickly look back on the past. The month of May in Spokane was gorgeous! In terms of weather, I don’t know if I remember a nicer May at any other time in my life. Alright, as we hop into my latest Thursday Rundown, let’s hope the perfect temperatures and sunny skies continue in June…

Ready For June – Speaking of June, this month is going to be bananas (in a good way)! Weddings, business trips, special visitors, end-of-school, Hoopfest, Catholic Summer Camp, and much more await our family. I don’t necessarily know if that means I will have even more to write about or if it means I will be writing less because we will be so busy but please stick around to find out.

My team will look a little different this year, but I will be back on the streets of Spokane later this month for my second consecutive Hoopfest.

Chicks – Last week, one of Beau’s daycare teachers brought in some of her chicks for the kids to hold. The pictures turned out so cute but I was drawn to something profound the teacher said when writing about how the kids reacted to the animals: They were incredibly loving and gentle toward the chicks. It was so much fun and made my heart so warm to see these children with something smaller and more delicate than even they are. That last sentence made me feel a special type of way.

Beau holding a chick that was brought to daycare last week.

Sign of Summer – That familiar tune could be heard in our neighborhood last night as the ice cream truck went up and down our streets for the first time this season. Of course Sloan couldn’t resist as she got a Jelly Belly-branded snow cone. The driver made every indication that she will be back so I will have to lay down some limitations on how many times we are going to give her our business this year…moderation is key. Believe it or not, a half decade ago I wrote about my top five favorite ice cream truck treats.

Sloan and her friends look at the ice cream truck’s menu.

Beer Purchase – In my previous Thursday Rundown, I mentioned that even though I had a Total Wine gift card it would definitely not be used on wine. Instead, I was excited to spend it on the large inventory of beer that the chain carries. After much deliberation last Saturday, I splurged on Summer Honey, a seasonal ale made by Missoula’s own Big Sky Brewing Co. When I lived in Montana this was a favorite brew of mine and when I cracked open a can several days ago it sure tasted like summer.

I love the Summer Honey cans! I enjoyed this in our backyard over the Memorial Day weekend.

Beef – I recently concluded watching the Netflix series “Beef.” I found the 10 episodes to be entertaining and clever. The series revolves around a single event at the very beginning of the first episode that ultimately intertwines two unlikely characters in an out of control rivalry. The show is meant to be funny but it deals with some very heavy themes. I thought the character development was great and if you have already watched “Beef” you might agree or disagree with me that cousin Isaac was the funniest and most engaging member of the cast. A good thing about “Beef” is that it is extremely easy to watch/follow and episodes are usually only 34 minutes long.

I thought “Beef” was a pretty decent show.


Have a good June, everyone. Please pray for our friends Dylan and Fidela as they get married this weekend. We can’t wait to watch them enter into holy matrimony on Saturday. Don’t Blink.

Our Hoopfest 2022 Experience

The dust has settled and Hoopfest 2022 is over. If you read my blog post on Friday, I mentioned that I didn’t particularly like our chances to make a deep tournament run. Well, I can report that the Reser Puffs ended up finishing in sixth place.

Out of six teams. 😂

Although we failed to win a game we sure had fun.

We failed to make it into the win column this past weekend. That’s not to say the games weren’t close. We actually surprised ourselves by being competitive. We lost our Saturday games by scores of 17-14 and 20-13. Our Sunday morning game was even tighter as we fell in overtime, 17-15. That final contest was especially agonizing to lose as we wanted to make it over the hump and take home those consolation champion t-shirts. But it wasn’t meant to be.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay because it was never our goal to win a championship or even a game in the first place. Rather, we were more focused on making family memories and taking part in an incredible community event. Check and check.

Even doing little things like taking the bus downtown with my family was something that made Hoopfest memorable.

Playing with my brother, sister, and sister-in-law was an awesome experience. It means so much when you are competing with family. Being out in the heat together trying to make baskets and doing our other family members proud was a bonding experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

To play in front of our children was something we didn’t take for granted.

But it wasn’t just the actual action on the court that was so rewarding. For the past few weeks, the four of us had our own text message group where we would hype ourselves up, share weather reports, and iron out details. The excitement and camaraderie we shared was special. We went together to pick up our Hoopfest packets on Thursday and on Saturday night we had an epic Reser Puffs BBQ at our house. On Sunday morning, after we were eliminated, we ordered a round of beers at a downtown restaurant. The tournament brought us together for an extended period of time and we loved every minute of it.

The Hoopfest experience extended far past the action that took place on the court. Our team BBQ on Saturday night was relaxing and a lot of fun.

Hoopfest is an amazing event and I am honored that I had the opportunity to take part in it. Seven years removed from being part of the event and 15 years from actually playing in it gave me renewed appreciation for how unique this tourney truly is. To be one of the 14,000 people shooting jumpers on the downtown Spokane pavement this past weekend was a true pleasure.

The four of us after our final game on Sunday. I really enjoyed playing with Miranda, Glen, and Carrie.

Thanks to Glen, Carrie, and Miranda for playing with me this weekend. Thanks to my wife, my kids, parents, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew for watching us. Thanks to the teams who played us (all great sports) and our court monitor (Keith Miner) who ran a smooth bracket. The soreness I feel throughout my body and the massive blister on my foot were all totally worth it. I am already excited for Hoopfest 2023. Don’t Blink.

Here Come the Reser Puffs

This could get brutal. Exactly 15 years since I last played Hoopfest, I am lacing up the sneakers to play in the tournament again. You might be asking, why the hell would you do that to yourself? Well, my brother asked me to…which leads to another level of insanity…

For the first time ever, I am playing in the family bracket. To balance out the testosterone of my brother and I, we will be joined by my sister-in-law (Glen’s wife) and my sister. Oh, boy. The Resers are in no way known for their basketball prowess. In fact, some of us have very little experience just dribbling a basketball. This could get interesting to say the least.

I went with Glen and my sister-in-law, Carrie, to pick up our Hoopfest packet on Thursday night and I snapped this photo of them at team check-in.

But no matter how bad we are, I am still really excited to play for several reasons…

1. I have never been on a team with my siblings in any type of organized competition before so this will be unique and fun.
2. The weather is going to be beautiful.
3. I will complete the Spokane trifecta of Bloomsday, the Lilac Parade, and Hoopfest.
4. My wife and kids will be cheering me on.
5. Nothing beats the atmosphere of downtown Spokane during Hoopfest weekend.

This is what the 2022 Hoopfest player t-shirt looks like.

Now, if you want to watch some comedy, you are more than welcome to watch the Reser Puffs play this weekend (yes, we are called the Reser Puffs). We are playing right in front of P.F. Changs on Main and Post on the F5 Networks #5 court. If you are crazy and want some bad basketball to start your day, you can catch our first game tomorrow at 8 a.m. Feel free to track us on the Hoopfest app, just simply go to the loser’s bracket.

When we went downtown to pick up our packets yesterday, not only did we see the location of our court but we saw the actual backboard as well.

What an opportunity to do something fun with my favorite people! My court monitor tenure was a great experience but I am ready to switch sides again. Watch out Spokane, here come the Reser Puffs. Don’t Blink.

Summer Is Here Thursday Rundown

Summer is here! With the official first day of the season this past Tuesday, the weather has definitely reflected it. We have avoided the brutal heat wave that has hit a large portion of the country and enjoyed extremely pleasant temperatures. Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Throwback to 2007 – I decided to squeeze in a #TBT for this blog post for a particular reason. This photo is of me playing in Hoopfest the last time I competed as a player. Although I volunteered for Hoopfest for several years after the 2007 event, I have not hooped it up myself for 15 years. That streak will end on Saturday but more on that tomorrow.

This was me playing in my last Hoopfest in 2007.

Funny Answers – If you have a child, most likely they have filled out a form about you like the one below. It is almost a rite of passage for parenthood and sometimes the answers can get pretty wild. I would say Sloan was rather tame with what “she” (her teacher) wrote below. I will give her a special dessert or something for saying that I am 16 years old.

Sloan filled out this form for me. It was good for a Father’s Day laugh.

It’s Summer – Last night I took the kids to Discovery Park in Spokane Valley. They immediately gravitated toward the splash pad. The parks in both Spokane and Spokane Valley boast these impressive water attractions. Last summer I wrote about the mystique of splash pads and included photos of some of the best ones we have visited in the area. If you live in Spokane and have kids who would like a fun option to cool off during the summer, this blog post is a must-read.

This was Beau last night at the Discovery Park splash pad.

Coffee Shops Unite – The espresso stand that is just a couple minutes from our house suffered a traumatic experience yesterday. Its truck was stolen! Th owners of Swell Coffee woke up on Wednesday morning to find out that their branded truck had vanished. It was about 10 hours of anguish before law enforcement tracked down the vehicle 49 miles away in Smelterville, Idaho. The carjacker fled the truck when pulled over. What I thought was really cool about the whole thing was that the million other coffee shops in the Spokane area expressed their relief on Instagram that their competitor’s vehicle was found…pretty classy!

A photo of the Swell Coffee owner with his truck after it was located in Idaho on Wednesday evening.

The Proposal – It was seven years ago on this date that I proposed to Sid (she said “yes”). I popped the question on the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, the location of our first date. My wife always tells the story about how I inhaled my dinner at the restaurant we ate at prior to the big moment. She just could not figure out why I was in such a hurry. The truth was that we were losing daylight after our food took way longer to arrive than expected. The photographer taking photos of the event needed me to get Sidney to the proposal location before it got too dark. If you want the long story, tap here.

That magic moment.


Thanks for stopping by tonight. I will be back tomorrow with a rare Friday blog post. Until then, enjoy summer! Don’t Blink.

Back Again for Hoopfest 2015

After a one-year hiatus, I am thrilled to participate in the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament once again. I am back to serve as a court monitor at Hoopfest, the signature event in the city of Spokane. This tournament is so big and so distinctive that ESPN is in town and Sportscenter will broadcast LIVE from Hoopfest for three hours tomorrow.

This weekend will mark my seventh time volunteering as a court monitor. From 2008-2013 I labored on the streets of Spokane helping to keep order on various courts. Each year brought different challenges and different memories. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.

This is me wearing the 2015 Hoopfest t-shirt and shorts while holding the 2015 Hoopfest ball.

This is me wearing the 2015 Hoopfest t-shirt and shorts while holding the 2015 Hoopfest ball.

To be honest, this year has already been memorable. This morning when we went downtown to pick up my court monitor equipment and gear, Sidney and I were interviewed by Grace Ditzler of Spokane news station KXLY. She told the tale of a “Hoopfest Love Story” in which Sidney and I traveled all the way to take part in this marquee event, making it our first major activity since our engagement. The report turned out awesome. Click here to watch it.

Sidney and I on the news this evening. KXLY interviewed us this morning. The report turned out great.

Sidney and I on the news this evening. KXLY interviewed us this morning. The report turned out great.

This year my assigned court monitor post is once again in the Main and Washington area of downtown Spokane. My court backboard is Langenhorst & Self CPA’s. I have an adult male court so you can be sure that the competition will be hot and contested. And believe me, I am not kidding about the “hot” part. The forecast calls for tomorrow to hit 104 degrees and Sunday to reach 106 degrees. The hydrating for me starts right now.

2015 Hoopfest court monitor t-shirt with my bracket book, the ball, and shoes.

2015 Hoopfest court monitor t-shirt with my bracket book, the ball, and shoes.

To anyone in town for Hoopfest, please don’t hesitate to stop by and say hi. I am so excited to be back in town for one of my favorite events and I can’t wait to share it with Sidney who will serve as my scorekeeper. Enjoy the weekend and I hope to see you on the streets of Spokane. Don’t Blink.

Heading Home for Summer Vacation

It is the eve of another long trip out west for me. Don’t take that as a complaint by any means, I am stoked! Whenever you get to go home it is a joyous occasion. Tomorrow after work I will rush to my place, grab my bags, and head off to the airport to begin my trek to Spokane.

This particular trip, just from the travel standpoint, will differ a little bit from my flights during the holidays. First off, I will have a travel partner! Sidney (more than just my travel partner) will be at my side the whole time. Although she visited Spokane for a short period during the Christmas holiday, this occasion she will be with me every step of the way starting when we take off from Myrtle Beach tomorrow to when we return on July 8. Additionally, we will tough it out through an interesting experience as we spend the night in the Seattle airport. Throughout my flying career I have never spent a whole evening at the airport but that is the price you pay when you fly weird times in the middle of the week.

It will be very well worth it. We have a lot planned over the next two weeks. After a one year hiatus, I will once again volunteer at Hoopfest, the planet’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. Back for my seventh season as a court monitor, I am excited to once again be part of my hometown’s signature event. After Hoopfest weekend, we will venture outside of Spokane and make visits to Missoula, Seattle (outside of the airport), and Walla Walla. I can’t wait to show Sidney these western cities!

Of course the best part of this impending trip is the opportunity to see my family. In addition to my parents, brother, and sister, I will be reunited with my niece who is now 9 months old. She has grown so much since I last saw her at Christmas. Snapchat videos can only do so much justice. I will also meet a new member of the family for the first time. My parents welcomed a kitten into their home about three months ago and I can’t wait to meet and play with her.

There is one thing awaiting us out in Washington state that I didn’t anticipate a couple weeks ago, however. The area is expecting record heat throughout the next several days. Hoopfest weekend has forecasted temperatures for 100 degrees and 104 degrees. Sure the humidity won’t be as intense as I am used to down South but let’s not kid ourselves….100 degrees is 100 degrees. When we arrive on Spokane soil we will be fully expecting a scorcher.

But it doesn’t matter, 0 degrees or 100 degrees, I am so excited for a vacation with my loved ones. For those of you who live in the places I mentioned, I hope that we can connect. Over the next couple weeks my posts to Don’t Blink might decrease a little bit. Never fear, I will be back at it after that first week in July. West coast here I come. Don’t Blink.

My Big Idea: Making Money on Charging Phones

I can’t seem to fight the marketing blood I got in my body as I have an idea that might change the world. Well let’s be honest, this idea won’t change the world at all but it would make the life of someone like me much more convenient. And if there is something that can make the life of Brent Reser a little less complicated than it has to be gold, right? Totally kidding.

I have mentioned before in this blog that I have a little problem with my iPhone. For whatever reason, my phone can’t hold a charge. I will have my phone plugged in all night long and by the time the lunch hour hits I am down at 20%. By the time work ends I have recharged my phone back up to 100% only to see it at 32% by 9 p.m. I have tried everything from killing my apps when not using them, having the screen turn off in a timely manner after usage, and even not utilizing my phone as much but I have just learned to cope with that fact that my iPhone 5 is charge-challenged.

Because of this I take my charger with me everywhere. When I say I take it everywhere I don’t mean that I keep it in my workout bag or in my car…I mean I keep it in my pocket with me at all times. I charge my phone at work, at restaurants, and at stores. If there is an outlet, I am using it. A low point came this Fourth of July when as my family gathered in a grassy area to watch fireworks I plugged my phone into the old, dirty outlet of the bathroom building on the premises to build a little bit of a charge.

As I am conditioned to always have my charger with me in my pocket, I have never really thought about the horror of not getting an adequate charge while I happened to be out and about. However, I faced this conundrum just this past weekend. After a long day in the sun at the beach area of a river in Missoula, Paige and I went and ate dinner at of all places, Hooter’s. With being outside all day with no outlets available, my phone was down to under 10%. Luckily I had my charger and Paige had an outlet right under her seat. She plugged my phone in and then delivered the terrible news…my phone was not charging. The problem was my charger, not the outlet. Believe it or not, iPhone chargers sometimes stop working and there is nothing you can do about it. My phone died inside of Hooter’s and it just about ruined my whole meal.

Stick with me here, yes, I realize it is taking me longer than expected to get to my point…

Now I know many places and events sponsor “charging areas”. At Spokane’s Hoopfest this year the local electric company offered a plentiful amount of outlets at a central area for people to plug their phones into. At a place where I sometimes play poker they actually have phone chargers around the playing area for people to plug into. However, I have an idea that has the potential to make a lot of money.

If I had the money to startup a business, I would invest in a company that installed charging outlets in restaurants and other places where people gather. I would design an outlet piece that included built in chargers of the three or four most popular phones out at the time. I would then install these pieces at restaurants all across town. To activate these charging services, customers at the restaurants would pay a fee, let’s say $5, to plug their phone in for thirty minutes. Once the fee was paid the electricity would flow and the phone would get a charge.

People who depend on their phone and can’t live without it (like me) would pay for this service in a split second. While many of us iPhone-addicts carry around our chargers and might initially scoff at paying a fee there are always those times where we forget to pack our charger, or, like in my case, our charger stops working all together. Also, if this service was offered many people would just stop bringing their charger with them in the first place knowing that they would have a legitimate and secure place to plug their phone into. To be honest, there is a level of shame that many of us feel when plugging our phones in at random places. We look desperate and we recognize that we are stealing the electricity of the particular place. To have an area where charging phones is promoted and encouraged would definitely bring some relief and comfort.

After I installed the initial charger outlets across Missoula I guarantee some big corporate organization would take notice and pay me millions of dollars for the idea and the rights to take the concept to every restaurant across the nation. Life would be great.

So there is my big idea for the month. Anyone think I am onto something? Anyone think it is just another one of my crazy ideas that will never work? Anyone think that I am a big loser? Please let me know, maybe we can go in on this idea together! Don’t Blink.

Horrific Hoopfest Injury

Because I grew up going to athletic events, played sports all the way through high school, and now make a living working in sports, I have seen my fair share of sporting injuries take place right in front of my eyes. With that said, I had never seen anything worse than what I witnessed this past weekend at Hoopfest. The images engrained in my head from the events that occurred on early Saturday evening will forever be with me.

This year at Hoopfest I was a court monitor for a 12 team bracket as opposed to the traditional 16 team bracket. Because of this, I finished my shift early on Saturday at 4 p.m. I became very excited when I realized that I would get the opportunity to watch my brother play in his 5 p.m. game. Not only was it special that I could see him play, it was also a cool deal because I had not gotten to watch a Hoopfest game as a spectator in over six years.

After finishing up paperwork at my court, I walked from my post to my brother’s court between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main. My brother’s team consisted of himself, two friends from the Ellensburg area, and one guy from Phoenix. The two guys from Ellensburg were staying at my parents’ house with us. Kyle, a former baseball teammate at Central Washington with my brother and a Hoopfest teammate of Glen’s the past couple of years, accounted for one of the Ellensburg boys. The other was a 20 year old kid named Corey who was pumped up to play in his first ever Hoopfest. I had gotten to know Corey the night before when him and Kyle arrived in town. He was excited to be in Spokane and to experience the tournament.

Glen with his two Ellensburg teammates. Corey is on the far left and Kyle is in the middle.

Glen with his two Ellensburg teammates. Corey is on the far left and Kyle is in the middle.

I got to Glen’s court a couple minutes before the game was about to start. The court monitor asked the crowd gathered if anyone could help out and keep score. Because I wanted a prime view of the action and because I know how valuable score keepers are, I volunteered and ran from my curb seat across to the other side of the court and to the scorer’s table.

Saturday evening games at Hoopfest are very competitive. They are elimination games and everyone wants to win and make it to Sunday. This game was no different. Glen’s team and their opponents played each other hard the whole game. Both teams were chippy and both teams were doing all they could not to lose. Just when it seemed like Glen’s team would not make it to see the light of Sunday as they faced a five point deficit, the guys pulled together for one last run. Thanks to some clutch shooting and a very generous timeout call, they managed to tie the game at 16-16 when regulation ran out. Overtime.

The Hoopfest overtime rule was enforced and the first team to 18 would win the game. This was when disaster struck…

In one of the initial possessions of overtime with the score still tied, Corey made a strong move to the basket for a potential lay-in. He left the ground to lay the ball up. As he was in the air, his defender accidentally took Corey’s feet out from under him. This flipped him upside down in midair, making a feet first landing impossible. In the split second that all of this happened I watched in complete horror as he fell head first into the cruel Spokane pavement. Corey was unable to brace his fall with his hands as the complete impact of the crash was absorbed with the left side of his head.

The moment the accident happened I heard a sound I never want to hear again in my lifetime…the thump of the human skull on the pavement. When he hit, it wasn’t like everyone froze and there was a moment of shocked silence, rather there was a collective shriek of sheer terror that came out of everyone’s mouth who watched the incident. About five seconds after he hit the ground Corey’s unconscious body had a seizure. With his body twitching on the court, people all around the court started to lose it. I dashed down the street to find a court marshal (they have radios) to get paramedics and rapid response team members down to the court immediately.

They eventually got Corey stabilized.

They eventually got Corey stabilized (Hoopfest 2013).

By the time I got back to the court Corey’s head was laying in a puddle of blood that turned the rain soaked black pavement dark red. With my brother and his two teammates huddled around him, a good Samaritan had come out of the crowd and tried to do what she could to help. Emergency personnel started to arrive and work on Corey. By the time they got to the scene, Corey had regained consciousness but was totally out of it.

By this time a large crowd had developed all around the court. Every second someone would come up to me and ask what happened. As the paramedics worked on him, players from both teams stood with their hands on their heads and lost expressions on their faces. They brought an ambulance in and parked it inside the court as personnel worked under the basket on Corey. Glen and Kyle ripped into Corey’s bag to get his cell phone so they could call his parents, only problem being his cell phone was dead. Just as my cousin was about to run to the free charging station they had set up at Hoopfest, the paramedics asked Corey a question: ‘Can you tell us your parents’ cell phone number?” Corey knew it! Not only did he know it, but he could recite it as well. Kyle called Corey’s parents to tell them the awful news.

Just a small portion of the crowd that gathered all around the court to watch the scene unfold.

Just a small portion of the crowd that gathered all around the court to watch the scene play out.

From the time the emergency crew arrived it took them about 30 minutes to treat Corey, stabilize him, get him on the stretcher, and load him into the ambulance. As they carried him into the vehicle, the roughly 200 people who were around watching gave him a nice ovation. As the ambulance took Corey to Sacred Heart Hospital the blood on the court was wiped off with a sanitizing solution and the two shook up teams resumed the game. My brother took Corey’s free throw and made it to put them up 17-16. However, the other team nailed a two-pointer to win the contest, 18-17. In what would have been a tense round of handshakes if the incident never occurred, both teams embraced each other and knew that everything had just been put in perspective. No one really won that game.

The point where they loaded Corey into the ambulance.

The point where they loaded Corey into the ambulance (Hoopfest 2013).

I left my spot at the scorer’s table and went to my mom across the street. Just seeing the tears in her own eyes made me wonder how terrible such a situation must be for the parents who actually have their own kids go through such a devastating and violent injury. Glen and Kyle went straight to the hospital. After a stint in the emergency room, they transferred Corey to intensive care. Things started to get a little scary.

Although he ended up getting stabilized while in the ICU, the damage could not have been more pronounced. Corey had sustained a serious concussion, the inside of his brain was bleeding, the back of it was bruised, and he had suffered a skull fracture. To make you squirm a little, doctors had to use eight staples to shut the giant laceration on the left side of his head.

Glen and Kyle spent Saturday night and Sunday at the hospital with their teammate and friend. On Monday, my mom went to the hospital and met Corey’s parents for the first time who were very gracious about her visit. They said although it was Corey’s first Hoopfest, it would probably be his last. They also said they were hoping that Corey would get released from the hospital that day but that it would have to come when dark fell because he was having sensitivity issues with the daylight.

In fact Corey did get discharged from the hospital that Monday night. He is currently in Ellensburg. Corey faces a long road of recovery and he will be unable to do a lot of things for quite some time. I feel so awful for him. Although I only knew him for around 24  hours before the incident you hate to see something like that happen to someone so young and someone so nice. Another lesson in perspective for me. Here’s to a full recovery, Corey. I am sorry this happened to you. Don’t Blink.