At Hoopfest, we believe basketball is for everyone.
Teresa Skinner, President of ParaSport Spokane, agrees. ParaSport is a nonprofit organization that offers adaptable sports to the Spokane community.
Wheelchair basketball is one of the most adaptable sports offered by ParaSport. This year, ParaSport will be celebrating 20 years at Hoopfest.
Five competitive teams represent Spokane; adult (DIII), women’s, juniors, prep and futures. The adult team is combined men and women with some junior participation. Juniors include two teams for athletes up to their final year of high school. Prep is for athletes under 13 years old. And Futures is the youngest group of athletes.
These athletes compete in tournaments not only in the Pacific Northwest, but across the world.
One of the youngest athletes is Rowan Horton, a 5-year-old girl who plays on both the Futures team and the Prep team depending on the tournament. This year will be her third year playing at Hoopfest. Her favorite thing about Hoopfest is doing wheelies!
“It is a great outlet for both the kids and adults to be around others that have similar abilities. Watching the older kids and adults play teaches the younger kiddos that being a wheelchair athlete is just as physical as any other sport,” Rowan’s mother, Ayesha says.
Rowan began playing at 18 months and has not only found a great way to be physically active to keep her strong and healthy, but also a great way to build confidence.
Adaptable sports gave Bob Hunt, a Hoopfest athlete of at least 15 years, the opportunity to go to college and compete in adaptive sports for the University of Illinois.
“It helped me become more confident in life by competing around the nation and the world,” Bob says.
Parasport athletes on the Junior teams are encouraged to pursue further education and further opportunities to play wheelchair basketball.
ParaSport uses sports as a catalyst for life. While there are many physical benefits to adaptable sports, the societal benefits are even greater. Skinner says adaptable sports are life-altering for so many families on the West Coast.
“It’s about learning to leave all your stress at the door when you come to practice,” Skinner says.
Ayesha adds the importance of getting kids involved at a young age, like Rowan.
“It helps parents learn to allow their children to be independent. It can be a nice outlet for new parents as well who may not even know these types of programs are out there and can see how awesome all of these athletes are!” Ayesha says.
Bob shared his favorite Hoopfest memory.
In 2006 or 2007, his team ‘The Elk Boys’ made it to the championship game in the loser bracket, played the winners bracket twice and came out with W.
“The great thing about Hoopfest is they’ve been helping us since day one to show everyone wheelchair basketball in our fantastic city of Spokane,” Bob says.
We can’t wait to watch Rowan do a wheelie and see these athletes play this August on the streets of Hooptown USA.
Learn More About ParaSport
Learn more about ParaSport Spokane at https://www.parasportspokane.org/ or on social media @parasportspokane.
Join our ParaSport athletes and register for Hoopfest 2020, August 22-23 here.
Or register to be one of over 3,000 volunteers that make Hoopfest happen each year.