SPOKANE, Wash. - Three thousand volunteers helped out at the 24th Hoopfest in downtown Spokane. Some of those volunteers have now showed up to help every single year.
Twenty-five people, in fact, were there for the very first edition of Hoopfest more than two decades ago.
One of them, Jerry Schmidt, actually co-founded the tournament. He can usually be found every year along the baselines.
“My job is to set up 25% of the courts and tear down 25% of the courts.”
Schmidt’s fellow co-founder Dave Jackson can be found right with him courtside.
“I have this rim right here,” Jackson said, “its broken. I was fixing rims 25 years ago and I’m still fixing rims.”
Jerry and Dave are two of Hoopfest’s five founders, and a pair of the original 25 volunteers that serve every Hoopfest.
“It’s pretty amazing that a lot of my lifetime has been spent here,” said Jackson. “I feel like it’s a bit of a legacy I’ve been involved with. It’s an incredible event for Spokane.... sometimes it almost makes me cry thinking about it.”
Things have changed over the years. The event started with only 35 courts and 50 volunteers. Hoopfest has grown to over 400 courts and three thousand volunteers.
“It’s been phenomenal. I’m pretty proud,” Schmidt said.
Neither man sees himself slowing down anytime soon.
“If I can do it for another 25 years, “Jackson replied, “I will.”