Hoops on the River returns, but at the park

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



Hoops on the River

What: Three-on-three basketball tournament on the streets surrounding Esther Short Park, with music, food, vendors and clinics for young players.

Where: Esther Short Park, West Eighth and Columbia streets, Vancouver.

When: noon to 9 p.m. Friday, followed by free screening of “Hoosiers” in the park from 9 to 10:30 p.m.; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. team tournament play Saturday and Sunday. Check website for information on associated events.

Cost: Free to watch

Information: hoopsontheriver.org or www.oneteamkids.com

Hoops on the River might want to change its name to Hoops in the Park.

The event, created by Susie Oberst as a fundraiser for Share House, has moved from its traditional spot next to the Columbia River to Esther Short Park this year — and that’s far from the only change.

Two former participants, James Welch and Eric Anderson, are working with Share House to transfer the event to the One Team Kids Foundation, a group they started to provide extracurricular activities for underprivileged children.

The event will still raise money for Share House, but the two decided to take it over after it grew a bit too large for the charity to manage, they said.

“It grew and grew and grew, and it became really challenging for them,” Anderson said. “So about 14 months ago, they sent out a message saying they would have to re-evaluate it. When we saw that we were heartbroken, so we made an agreement with them to work together on it and eventually transfer it to One Team Kids.”

The problem caused Hoops on the River to skip last year, but it also gave Welch and Anderson more time to plan and add features to the popular event.

“There have been some significant changes,” Welch said. “The biggest is our location. We moved to Esther Short Park to get the event more out in the public. The park will be full of vendors; we’ll have more sponsors, more activities than we’ve ever had.”

The main attraction is a massive three-on-three basketball tournament with nearly 300 teams participating. The streets surrounding Esther Short Park will be shut down, and teams will play against one another in makeshift basketball courts set up with portable hoops on the pavement.

“That’s the beauty of moving it to Esther Short Park,” Walsh said. “It will allow a lot of spectators to come down and watch the games. And then also the (Vancouver) Farmers Market will be there. We’ll have sports and athletic vendors. It will be a basketball-focused weekend.”

Shoot 360 also will have a free youth clinic Friday night for first- through sixth-graders. The clinic will cover skills, training, strategy, and include pizza and shave ice for participants, they said.

Parents should call 360-921-2429 to enroll their kids in the clinic, which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will also be free heart screenings for kids ages 12 to 18 who sign up in advance through the phone number.

“Blaze, the Portland Trail Blazers mascot, will be at our youth clinic, and cheerleaders and some former players are also planning to come to the event,” Anderson said.

Beyond the tournament, participants can compete in a slam-dunk contest and a three-point shooting contest.

“Come on down and cheer the people on,” Walsh said. “It’s going to be a great time.”