SPOKANE, Wash.- The eve of change is less than three weeks away for the Lilac City, when downtown transforms into Basketball City for the largest 3on3 tournament in the world.
In 30 years, Spokane Hoopfest has hosted hundreds of thousands of players of all ages and skill level. From elite players, family co-eds, to some competitive elementary school kids, anyone can join in on the fun.
For teams, the road to the victory begins the minute the official brackets are published the week of the tournament.
While for staff, it begins the minute registration closes.
"We go back and check every submission. We had a person enter their teammate as 9"9'," laughed Giff Marleau, who works in registration and bracketing. "We are pretty sure they are not that, so we go back and double check and contact them. We have to make sure we have the most accurate information for bracketing."
For 17 years, Giff has been working with Hoopfest to ensure all the teams registered play in the correct brackets.
"It's about having the most fun, but you can only do that if you play in the correct bracket," said Giff.
Online registration has helped simplify the process of creating the 2019 brackets, but there is still hours of time put in to finalizing each one.
"The system only uses statistics and it is very broad." Giff said. "We review everyone to ensure that when people show up on Saturday morning, they are on the right court."
But some brackets aren't as easy to form as others. There are a number of variables to consider. Giff said one example is family brackets since there is a diverse meaning to family.
"A group of 13 year old co-eds can't play with adults. So sometimes we have to take each sheet and cut it down to just a single strip. That strip becomes a part of a bracket that we just tape together," Giff said.
For the next three weeks, Giff and her committee will be reviewing every single bracket to ensure it is fair.
This leads to the more comical side of reviewing brackets, reviewing team names.
"We have our censor committee. We want everyone to have fun, but it needs to be family friendly."
Hoopfest requires team names be creative but appropriate. Some teams try to sneak it in but nothing gets past the censor committee.
"We even have some parents censoring their kids," laughs Giff. "That's even more amusing."
Teams that get caught with an inappropriate name are contacted, and the committee changes the name to the captain's last name.
Once all is said and done, over 6,000 teams are approved and sorted into brackets.
"The joy for us is Saturday morning. Spokane looks pretty pristine with all the courts, and then the teams show up."
There are less than 50 spots left. If you would like to register a team you have until midnight on Monday.
Otherwise, if you want to participate but aren't much of a baller, volunteer!
Hoopfest 2019 offers a number of volunteer positions and it is never to late to sign up.
Hoopfest is June 29-30, 2019.