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.

Spokane Hoopfest 2013: Smoooooth

This past weekend I concluded my sixth year as a Spokane Hoopfest court monitor and I can say that it will go down in the books as one of my smoothest tournaments ever. I had zero major issues and for the most part, everyone kept it cool in my bracket. While Hoopfest 2013 will mostly be remembered as a successful and smooth tourney through my eyes, I will also remember it for a few other reasons. Here is my Hoopfest 2013 recap.

Even though I was assigned to the exact same court I monitored on last year at Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard, I got a totally different assignment. For the first time ever, I was in charge of a family bracket. The teams that made up my bracket consisted of adult males between the ages of 18-60 who were all related to each other. Mostly I had teams with a dad and three sons or I had teams that had two older brothers each with one of their own sons. I also had teams where I had absolutely no idea how the family connection worked, even after a lot of my own analyzing.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

It was fun watching my bracket battle it out. There is a certain chemistry between families on an athletic court/field and it showed during Hoopfest. Most of the teams on my court utilized awesome teamwork throughout the weekend and motivated each other in a respectful and effective manner. The respect that the families showed one another on their own teams also extended to their opponents as well. Although arguments and tense moments definitely occurred between teams during play, good sportsmanship mostly always prevailed and always when the games concluded the opposing teams congratulated each other and left everything on the court. After last year, it was definitely refreshing to see.

 

My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

I think only two controversial moments happened the whole weekend.

1. On one of the late Saturday games, one of the teams went a little crazy when they heard that their game was headed to overtime. They thought that with regulation over and with them holding to a 19-18 lead that the game was over. I explained that the game would continue in overtime until a team reached 20 points. Although angry and feeling like I was against them they finished the game, ultimately winning. Afterwards they apologized for their little freak out session, even before I put the exact rule that I correctly applied right in front of them.

2. A team was convinced that the score reflected on the red and blue scorecard was incorrect. I guess I shouldn’t even say “team”…it was a player on a team who was later joined by another one of his teammates in the mini dispute. They thought the scorekeeper (my dad) took away one of their points and gave it to the other team. After explaining the last few possessions with the players and reaching the score that we originally had reflected on the scorecard, they grudgingly gave up their fight.

I will definitely remember Hoopfest 2013 for the weather. All week long the forecast stated that both days of Hoopfest Weekend would be hot, with temperatures reaching the mid-nineties. While Sunday lived up to its billing, Saturday did not. I woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and looked out my window at the overcast, drizzly sky and asked myself “What’s going on here?” My mom assured me that it would blow over but it never did. For most of Saturday, the streets of downtown Spokane had dark clouds hovering above with several different periods of rain off and on. At one point, the whole tournament stopped for about 10 minutes for the sake of safety as it poured down rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

The intermittent rain had some unpleasant results. First off, I had never seen so many nasty slips and falls in any other year. The wet courts slowed down play but it still couldn’t stop players from sliding around. Probably every player had at least one experience where they found themselves sitting on the cold, unforgiving pavement. Also, majority of the courts were sent into disarray as the tape markings could not withstand the rain coupled with the warming of the courts when the rain would let up. This resulted in many court with no markings whatsoever. My court actually held up pretty well but there was still confusion and cheap blackboard chalk could only do so much. But once Sunday came along the clouds disappeared and the bright sun shined down on us for the whole day, bringing the type of weather that is typical, and preferred, for Hoopfest.

Come Sunday morning, "real" Hoopfest weather appeared.

Come Sunday morning, real Hoopfest weather appeared.

I will also remember Hoopfest 2013 for having a little more downtime than usual. I only had 12 teams in my bracket as opposed to the standard 16 so my Saturday ended at 4 p.m. as opposed to 6:30 p.m. This allowed me to watch my brother’s Saturday night game but more on that tomorrow. Anyway, in 6 years I had never had the chance to watch a Hoopfest game as purely a spectator so that was a nice little treat.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

In the end, a team called Me and My Three Sons won my bracket. They went undefeated and blew out their opponent in the championship game. I can go into the Hoopfest offseason with a great taste in my mouth and great anticipation for Hoopfest 2014. Thank you Spokane for always putting on such a great event. Don’t Blink.

Hoopfest Eve 2013

On a scale of 1-10, my enthusiasm level right now is at a roaring 10! It is Hoopfest Eve and everyone in the city of Spokane is gearing up for the best weekend of the summer. Starting tomorrow morning hundreds of thousands of people will converge in downtown Spokane to celebrate the biggest and best 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet.

Out of the 300,000 people on the street tomorrow, you can count me in as one of them. If you are trying to find me, look for a dude in a bright green dri-fit fluorescent shirt. For the sixth consecutive year I will serve as a court monitor at Hoopfest. I take great pride in doing my best to make sure that at least 1 of the 450 courts at the event runs smoothly. Because I do take so much stock in what I do, I want to make sure I improve on my performance from last year when a few fights derailed the sportsmanship and solid game flow that I do my best to uphold during the tournament. Take this as my redemption year, if you will.

I am pumped up for Hoopfest 2013!!

I am pumped up for Hoopfest 2013!!

You know one of the main reasons why I love Hoopfest so much? Because every year they try to improve, something that gets kind of hard to do when you are already running an awesome event. The improvements can be seen everywhere, even when it comes to us volunteers. This year Hoopfest again outdid themselves with the gear they gave all of us court monitors. Everything reflects the hottest trends within Nike right now. The shoes are that mesmerizing dark yet light blue color with fluorescent green shoe laces. The hat matches the shoes with a blue cap and a hot green swoosh. The shirt that I will wear for two straight days is fluorescent green with the current popular Nike slogan of “(Spokane Hoopfest) Never Stops” printed on the front. The shorts might be the coolest pair of pants I now own as they are gray with a fluorescent green and blue design incorporated. I will have to pay special attention that no one at the court steals the ball as even that is pretty sweet! Who has ever seen a basketball that alternates between brown and orange and has fluorescent green mixed in?

 

Hoopfest goes all out for its volunteers. Great gear this year.

Hoopfest goes all out for its volunteers. Great gear this year.

We got quite the forecast this year too! Both Saturday and Sunday call for temperatures hovering around the low 90’s. Saturday there is a chance of a thunderstorm or two in the afternoon and Sunday is supposed to be all sun, baby. I love the heat and welcome the rays all weekend long.

Hoopfest Family Headquarters will once again be at my parents’ house. My brother already has his team here at the house where they will stay for the weekend. My cousin is due here later tonight with her two youngest daughters who will both be competing in the tournament. Then there is Paige and I who just arrived. This weekend Paige will experience her first ever Hoopfest! I tried telling her a little bit about it but just like with Las Vegas I told her that she would just have to experience it on her own to really see what it is all about.

While I thought my on-court performance last year was a little lackluster, one of the high ranking Hoopfest officials thought differently. During the 2012 tournament when all the chaos was going on he told me he was going to assign me to the exact same court the next year because it took a special monitor to handle it. I thought that was just something he was just saying and would forget about…no and no. Once again I am at Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard at the KXLY 4 #1 court. Please come see me and say hi! If you do, I might give you a coupon for a free Big Mac.

Let’s get this weekend started! Have fun everyone, protect yourself from the sun, practice good sportsmanship, and be safe. Hoopfest 2013…LEGGGGGGGO!!!! Don’t Blink.

Hoopfest 2012: Basketbrawl

*Originally published on July 4, 2012.

This past weekend I completed my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Hoopfest. This particular year the tournament was the largest ever as over 7,000 teams took to the streets of Spokane to play some ball. Far and away, Hoopfest 2012 will go down as my most challenging year.

One thing I love about court monitoring is that you get a different experience each year. Different brackets, different ages, different street locations, different weather, and different situations factor in to making sure that one tournament will be completely different from another tournament. My first four years I definitely got a unique taste each time. However, while each year presented me with a new experience and new stories, one thing stayed constant: I had zero problems. I was able to maintain control, avoid any ugly incidents, and keep all teams eligible. Well, my unblemished record took a bit of a hit this year.

Hoopfest 2012: This was my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for Hoopfest.

On Friday night I learned that I got assigned an adult male court….well, sort of.  My bracket consisted of 17-18 year old boys, some still in high school, others just graduated. I welcomed this assignment. For many people, this age is the pinnacle of athletic careers. I knew competition would be intense and the desire to win would be high. This appealed to me. I love monitoring games when teams go at each other tooth and nail, doing whatever they can to advance in the bracket. However, I think I got a little more than what I bargained for.

Hoopfest 2012: My brother and I at Hoopfest.

My home for the weekend was the KXLY4 HD #1 court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. This particular court was an end court so instead of another court directly in back of my court, I had empty space, thus allowing for fans to crowd around that area. Anyway, the early morning games went well except for one weird oddity. Maybe as a sign to me that this would be no regular Hoopfest, during one of the first games a drunk transient wandered onto my court and stood inside the two-point arc. Incensed, I told the guy to get off the court. He said no. Again, I told him to get off the court. He said no again. After telling him that I was going to get the cops he stepped behind the two point line (still on the court) and slurred “I’m behind the line now.” Just as he said that I saw my court marshal out of the corner of my eye and noticed that he had just realized the situation. As I went to go meet him, the transient left the court. Several other court marshals and rapid response members followed him in hot pursuit.

The actual play that morning went exactly how I thought it would go. Games for the most part were hotly contested and the competitive level was high, but nothing got out of hand. By the time the 12:30pm game came around, things started to escalate a little. In the first winners bracket game of the tournament, two teams were going at it the whole twenty-five minutes. Trash talk, hard fouls, and some pushing and shoving entered the picture. Towards the end of the game, I was forced to call an intentional foul. After that, everyone seemed to calm down a little bit and the game finally came to an end. I ventured over to the scorer’s table to do the necessary paperwork for the completed game. As  my head was turned from the players I received an urgent alert from my cousin to turn around. As I threw my head back I saw a terrible sight. No less than six or seven people were engaged in a fight. Haymakers were being thrown, people were screaming, and randos were starting to rush over. The number of people started to snowball and the situation got ugly. Remember how I said there was open space behind my court? The brawl had spilled out into the open area. At least twenty people were involved. My court marshal arrived quickly on the scene and radioed for all the help possible. We had multiple court marshals, several rapid response members, and quite a few Spokane police officers doing what they could to break the mess up. By the time order was restored there were bloody faces, ripped shirts, and numerous upset people. What happened was after the game finished, a fan said something to a player on the losing team and that player went after the fan. The team that instigated the brawl was disqualified from the tournament on the spot.

Hoopfest 2012: This picture was taken literally seconds before the first brawl broke out behind me.

I had never presided over such a melee before at Hoopfest. After giving my statement to a high ranking Hoopfest official, I got the next game going. The following game went well and I decided that the earlier fight was just a fluke, something everyone goes through if you volunteer at Hoopfest long enough. Unfortunately, it was not a fluke. At the 1:30pm game, another winner’s bracket matchup, another fiery situation had developed. Two teams from local area high schools were facing off. The teams had history with each other in other sports and they both wanted to win the game. One of the teams brought a very large cheering section with them. The empty space behind my court was no longer empty…it was packed with seventeen and eighteen year old supporters of one of the teams. While they were supporters of the one team, they were more like haters of the other team. The fans kept heckling and baiting the other team, one player in particular. As a court monitor you can try to control a situation as intently as possible but when the crowd is so large and when they are in back of you, it is hard to regulate completely. Anyway, a member of the crowd finally said something that really got to the targeted player and it was game over from there. The player walked over to the fan, pushing me aside as I tried to step between the two (this was a huge athlete), and cold clocked the heckler. Chaos ensued.

Once again blows were exchanged by multiple people. The player who instigated the fight was completely out of control. Someone from the crowd took the player down to the ground and then, I kid you not, some kid who was well over 300 pounds fell on the player, securing the peace. Court marshals and rapid response members separated everyone and I was given the decision on whether to let the game continue or to just call it right then and there. I decided to let the game continue. The player who crossed the player/fan boundary and punched the fan was ejected for the rest of the tournament.

The rest of Saturday went by without a hitch. Many of the players on the other teams saw the previous brawls and did not want to repeat any of that behavior. The late afternoon games went without incident but I still drove home that night feeling a little down about what all had happened that day on my court. An awesome BBQ with my brother and his team, some cold beer, and great conversation that night helped to remove some of that earlier feeling and left me rejuvenated for Sunday.

A delicious Saturday night BBQ was just what I needed.

While Saturday was characterized by brawls, Sunday was defined by disqualifications. Here is the thing: When you fill out your Hoopfest registration packet, you must be honest. When you arrive at Hoopfest, your team must reflect all of the info from when you signed up back in March. If there is even the smallest inaccuracy, opposing players will pounce on it and push for consequences. This happened on Sunday. The DQs started early. One of the teams that still remained in the winner’s bracket had a couple players that looked like they were comfortably over six feet (the bracket was 5’10” and under). The success of the team drew a complaint from a player. So, after the team had won its opening game on Sunday to come just one win away from the championship game, we measured one of the kids and sure enough he did not meet the height limit. The team was immediately disqualified.

A couple games later, another team was disqualified because they had a player sign in who was not on the registered roster. Then, a couple more games later, the fourth team of my bracket was disqualified because they had a player who was signing in as a registered player on the team but the only problem was that he was not that registered player. With all of these disqualifications the aftermath sucked as all DQ’d teams were very upset and voiced their displeasure on the court for everyone to see/hear. I hate disqualifying any team. I hate seeing their weekend ruined, their entry money wasted, and their fans/family disappointed. But when an opposing player brings up a complaint, you have to investigate it and follow the Hoopfest rules. Please, register your team honestly and then uphold that same team for the whole tournament.

Hoopfest 2012: Court marshalls (red shirts) and rapid response members (blue shirts) gave me great support.

So besides all of the disqualifications that resulted in multiple forfeits, some basketball was still played on Sunday. In what couldn’t be any more fitting, the team that won my bracket, the Royal Knights, was one of the few teams that never found themselves in any controversy the whole weekend. They never fought, never had a question raised about their eligibility, never complained/petitioned against another team, never had any player pushing the height limit, and never gave me one reason to dislike them.  In a weekend that saw a quarter of my bracket get disqualified and multiple unsportsmanlike infractions occur, it served as a little bit of justice that a hard playing team like the Royal Knights took home the champion t-shirts.

Hoopfest 2012: Myself with my bracket champions, the Royal Knights.

Players and spectators asked me all weekend long if I enjoyed being in the middle of the action on such a crazy court. My simple answer was no. When I am responsible for running the show I find no joy in watching fights break out and ejecting teams from the tournament. So while I was disappointed in the antics that occurred on my court during Hoopfest 2012 I will just learn from the experience. Some things I could have controlled better and some things were completely out of my hands. I developed a whole new sense of respect for my court marshal, Kevin, and the rest of the Hoopfest court marshals and rapid response members. They had my back every single step of the way and supported me throughout the whole tournament.  Through this experience I feel like I became a better court monitor and my passion and love for Hoopfest never waivered. Let’s get the next 360+ days over with fast, I am ready for Hoopfest 2013! Don’t Blink.

Bring On Hoopfest 2012!

*Originally published on June 29, 2012.

Finally! My favorite weekend every summer, Hoopfest, has arrived. In less than twelve hours I will be on the streets of downtown Spokane as I serve as a court monitor for my fifth consecutive year. Ask yourself, have you ever played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament? Secondly, ask yourself, have you ever played in Hoopfest? If you answered “yes” and then “no,” I sadly have to inform you that you have never truly played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament before. Spokane Hoopfest is a basketball event on steroids. Nothing compares…nothing even comes close. This year more than 7,000 teams will participate in the event and I can’t wait.

Tomorrow I will monitor twenty games with the first one starting at 8am and the last one ending at around 7pm. It is a long, but very fun, day. I arrived in Spokane about two hours ago. My parents are hosting my brother, his girlfriend, and his three Hoopfest teammates who make up the “SlumpBusters.” Along with them, I also have several relatives who are also staying with us as they will participate in the tournament as well. Not only is my parents’ residence filled with lots of people right now, it is also filled with tons of excitement. And while we might be overindulging a little too much on the beer and pizza at the moment, you can rest assured that all of us will be ready to go by tomorrow morning.

Although Hoopfest is by leaps and bounds the best 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet, they still decided to step it up this year. The game ball is the coolest version yet, the court monitor shirts are dri-fit, and the complimentary shoes each court monitor receives for volunteering are sick. Adding to the prospect that this will be the best Hoopfest yet, the weather forecast is absolutely perfect. Tomorrow calls for a high temperature of 82 degrees while Sunday is predicted to reach 78 degrees. This is ideal weather for the players, comfortable weather for court monitors, and great weather for girls to dress in whatever “cute” outfit they feel like. Bring it on.

My 2012 Hoopfest court monitor dri-fit shirt

If you are in Spokane this weekend and will be downtown, PLEASE stop by my court and say hi. I am monitoring an adult male court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. My court name is KXLY4 HD #1. Come bring me an energy drink (sugar free please) or stop by just to heckle me. If you are too busy watching other games to make it by my court, text me later and I will invite you over to my parents’ house for our big Saturday night Hoopfest BBQ. Remember to use the hashtag of #SpokaneHoopfest for all of your Tweets and Instagram photos.

Hoopfest 2012: The official game ball and my court monitor Nike shoes.

Let the fun begin! Good luck to everyone participating in some capacity in Hoopfest 2012! Hello again to all of my Spokane buds and welcome to all of my Montana friends who have traveled west for this weekend. Have a wonderful couple days in the Lilac City, it does not get much better than this. Don’t Blink.