What better place for a basketball-centric workout than under the American pavilion at Riverfront Park with Hoopfest in mind?
Hooptown USA, a brand designed and managed by Hoopfest Spokane, hosted a free fitness event for women on Monday that used basketball to help keep the heart pounding. The other goal was to involve more women in Hoopfest programming, said Morgan Marum, Hoopfest’s director of corporate and media relations.
The first workout was for girls under 18 and the second was for women 18 and over. All skill levels were welcome and each session lasted 45 minutes.
Sadly, the adult session lacked a bit of commitment, but Marum isn’t worried about the long haul. Monday’s goal was to build on past fitness events hosted by Hoopfest at Riverfront and help strengthen female brackets during Hoopfest. Engagement in these events should naturally accelerate as they unfold.
Marum and Hoopfest sought out the best women to lead the Women’s-Focused Introductory Basketball Day. They chose 6-foot-3 twin sisters Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth, former female basketball players from Gonzaga who graduated last weekend.
“They are really wonderful leaders,” said Marum. “They are really great teammates and they are wonderful role models for these young athletes. So immediately, our session with young athletes got full, that’s obvious.
The Wirths played for the Bulldogs for four seasons after moving to Spokane from Mesa, Ariz, so being able to give back to the community that welcomed them with open arms was an easy decision.
“Spokane has been so good to us,” said LeeAnne Wirth. “And just the support that we’ve gotten on the basketball front and all of our games and all of the events we’ve had at GU is more than I ever imagined or hoped for.”
It was also important for the two to see their young fans again after missing out on seeing them after games and at community events, like Hoopfest, over the past year.
“I was just super excited to be able to see people again,” said Jenn Wirth. “One of the best things about playing Spokane is the fans and the support we get. And we get to sign the autographs after the game for the little girls. This is something that means a lot to us. It was hard not to have it this year.
Their gratification extended to providing the joy of basketball to young girls and women, no matter how hard they move with a basketball or what their shot looks like.
“I just think it’s amazing what they’re doing,” Jenn Wirth said of Hooptown USA and Hoopfest. “I think there are a lot of people I know who feel like they don’t have the skills to play basketball. And so they sort of stop. What Hooptown USA is doing is great because it helps keep people involved, meet people and build community. “
When Marum sat down for coffee with the twins early in her planning, she made it clear that Hoopfest and Hooptown USA wanted the two twins to actively lead the inaugural event.
“Everything is better when we are together,” said LeeAnne. “And we’re having fun and we’re kind of on the same page. So we like to do everything together.
The Wirths accompanied their participants through warm-ups, dribbling and shooting exercises and even some fun competitions.
At the end of the Under-18 group, the twins took each girl off the pavilion floor onto a platform to shoot 40 feet tall. Of the 25 or so pictures, only one girl emptied hers, Kilee Alternader.
Two of the other girls involved were Kinley Myers, 9, and her sister Kendall, 6.
Their mother, Kristen Myers, made sure not to miss this unique opportunity.
“My daughters have loved the Wirth twins since their debut in Gonzaga,” said Kristen Myers. “And they also like to be active. So it was an event that we could not miss.
The Wirths are heading home to Arizona next week and training and waiting for the next stop on their basketball trips.
“We’re just playing things by ear and trying to figure out the next steps for us,” LeeAnne said. “” Just trust the process, trust God’s plan for our lives, and find the next chapter for us. ”