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Para-Athletics Receive Boost

Published: April 02, 2018

SPOKANE, Washington - Eastern Washington University (EWU) and Spokane Hoopfest Association (Spokane Hoops) are teaming up to promote wheelchair basketball at all levels in the Spokane area.  

With EWU having recently launched a wheelchair basketball club team, and Spokane Hoops' iconic 3on3 basketball tournament, Hoopfest, the partnership will create a bright future for para-athletics in the community.  

The EWU wheelchair club team is the first to be formed at a university in the western United States and is moving toward developing an NCAA wheelchair basketball program this fall. The club team has already experienced success, taking 2nd place in their division at the Best of the West Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in Seattle.  

Eastern received a $50,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to establish the parasport program.  

"EWU is grateful to the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and Hoopfest for supporting this program," says Donna Mann, associate dean of EWU's College of Health Science and Public Health. "Part of our initial goal will be to demonstrate the incredible enthusiasm the Spokane community has toward supporting major athletic events."  

Three of the starters on the EWU team have previously competed in the wheelchair division at Spokane Hoopfest, including student Jeremy Weaver - an 18-year veteran of the tournament, having started in the inaugural junior division of Hoopfest in 2000.  

Spokane Hoops Association is an avid supporter of the wheelchair basketball initiative at EWU and over the years has worked closely with ParaSport Spokane and Team St. Luke's to provide venues to meet the competitive and accessibility needs of para-athletes.  

Opportunities for youth and adults with physical disabilities are substantially expanding in the Spokane region.  

"Our organization strives to bring basketball to our region for all athletes," says Executive Director Matt Santangelo. "Any opportunity to introduce new programing or reach new athletes, we stand behind and support 100 percent!"  

There are more than 1.3 million physically impaired persons in the U.S., some recovering from injuries or limb-loss sustained in military conflict, personal injury or through disease. Physical rehabilitation and athletic pursuits are identified as methods for restoring these persons to physical and emotional well-being.

EWU and Hoopfest are proud to provide opportunities to these community athletes.   

EWU Wheelchair Basketball Club Team

About Spokane Hoopfest Association  

Spokane Hoopfest Association (Spokane Hoops) - a Washington nonprofit corporation and tax exempt organization under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code - is committed to creating basketball experiences that celebrate athleticism, fair play, good sportsmanship and community involvement. Established in 1990, Spokane Hoops organizes and produces the world's largest annual 3on3 basketball tournament - Spokane Hoopfest - that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to town the last weekend in June, every year.   Spokane Hoops is run by a staff of seven who work year-round in its downtown Spokane office, led by the strategic vision of a 10-member board of directors. A 25-member operating committee is the front lines of the thousands of volunteers that make Hoopfest happen.   Throughout the year, it is Spokane Hoop's goal to better the city of Spokane through its love of basketball. In addition to hosting the tournament each summer, Spokane Hoops also runs the Elite Basketball League, an AAU-sanctioned program; the Ignite Basketball Association, a community and school-based outreach program that offers a safe, constructive alternative for area youth; and Eastern Washington Elite.   Additionally, since 1990, Spokane Hoops has built over 35 community basketball courts in the region and donated over $1.7 million to local charitable organizations including Special Olympics, community centers and various youth sports and learning programs.   Hoopfest 2018 is scheduled for June 30-July 1.  

About Eastern Washington University   

EWU is a rapidly-growing, regional, comprehensive public university, located in Cheney, just 16 miles from Spokane. Founded in 1882, Eastern has evolved to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce and become a driving force in the culture, economy and vitality of the Inland Northwest. The university offers 135 areas of study, two engineering degrees, nine master's degrees, 12 graduate certificates, 39 graduate programs, an educational specialist degree and one applied doctorate. The EWU Spokane campus is located in the thriving University District and is home to the university's College of Health Science & Public Health and the College of Business & Public Administration. This presence allows the university to solidify important academic and community partnerships in the region. Learn more at


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