Industry Insights

Best of the Best: Spokane Hoops

By LeagueApps
April 5, 2018
2 min

Our on-going Best of the Best series aims to identify the most innovative, forward-thinking, and dynamic youth sports organizations in the country. This week our quest has led us to the Pacific Northwest.

Matt Santangelo was named Executive Director of Spokane Hoops back in 2014 and since that time the organization’s reach and impact have extended beyond the state of Washington. The youth basketball organization’s annual HoopFest, for example, has become the envy of tournament operators the world over. The sheer numbers of participants and the massive financial impact it has upon the Greater Spokane area has elevated Spokane Hoops brand and established them as a leader in the youth sports community. To fully understand the scope of their success and where the organization is headed in 2019 and beyond, Matt Santangelo was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

How do you quantify Spokane Hoops success?

● We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary of the organization this year, which is a testament to how we’ve been able to grow and scale our programs.
● Consider our HoopFest Numbers: 8 Staff, 6000+ teams, 24,000 athletes+, 420 courts, and 14,000 games during a course of one weekend. HoopFest has an annual $50 Million economic impact to our region.

● In the early 2000s, we became the largest AAU basketball organization with over 225 teams.
● We’ve partnered with organizations that align with our mission to build community through the sport of basketball.
● Plans for 2019 and Beyond: 3-v-3 Basketball will be a 2020 Olympic sport that we can spearhead, solve challenges, and develop across the US. We’re also targetting a redevelopment of Riverfront Park and building a sports complex tied to basketball. This all feeds into our 30th Anniversary which is aimed to celebrate the sport of basketball.

Through the lens of accessibility, how do you reconcile the need to be profitable with the desire to make sure all young athletes have access to basketball despite financial constraints?

● We’re a major donor to the Special Olympics, wheelchair athletes play for free in our events.
● Our connection to Ignite Basketball provides more resources for kids.

● We build outdoor community courts for Parks & Rec departments to offset public budgets. These courts create playing opportunities for communities who may not be able to afford it.
● We’re always looking for ways to grow the sport and create opportunities for those who don’t have the resources to get to AAU or tournaments.

How do you go about recruiting and retaining quality coaches as you scale?

● We actively recruit volunteer coaches who are aligned with teaching the game across the Spokane area.
● We want coaches that focus on player development and growing athletes on and off the court, creating a basketball community.
● The challenge as it relates to recruiting and retaining coaches comes down to resources and incentives. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to provide resources for our coaches, as well as creating a standard of incentivizing coaches that is repeatable and effective.