By Shaley Howard
It’s summertime! Time for picnics, kayaking, hikes, movies in the park and – outdoor basketball! Saturday, July 28th the Portland Women’s 3x3 Basketball Tournament will be celebrating 10 years of fantastic women’s 3x3 basketball, community fun! This year’s tournament should be especially exciting as it will be the final one!
If you haven’t attended the Portland Women’s 3x3 Basketball Tournament you might be wondering, ‘What’s the big deal with this tournament? 3x3 summer basketball tourneys aren’t that unusual.’ The reason this particular one is unique is it’s about women – only women. Most basketball tournaments are coed but all are primarily dominated by men. This one is a ‘women’s only’ 3x3 basketball tournament that’s easily the largest in the state, possible the nation. Not to mention a community oriented event. Each year at least 20-25 teams of women of all ages and skill levels participate. Whether they’re gym rats, college hoopsters, league champions – short, tall, queer, straight, young or old – it’s a tournament for all women.
“It’s been an event I look forward to yearly to reconnect with wonderful friends and a supportive community. I will cherish my years of involvement!”– remarked long time tournament participant Jessica Olson.
The event itself is a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is the largest LGBTQ non-profit organization in the U.S. with over a million members and supporters. The mission of HRC is to lobby and fight for equality and basic rights for the LGBTQ community. So far, the tournament has raised almost $50,000 for HRC! Nike #BeTruehas been the presenting sponsor every year and donates saaawweeet prizes for both first and second place winners in all four brackets.
“I started the tournament 10 years ago because as an openly gay woman, I wanted to help raise money for HRC, an organization that’s sole purpose is to lobby and fight for LGBTQ rights and equality. It was also important to me to bring community together. And what better way to bring people from all walks of life together then hosting a fun day in the park with music, picnicking, and fantastic basketball. Well and of course women, lots and lots of women.” – commented Shaley Howard, Portland Women’s 3x3 Basketball Tournament Organizer.
In addition to teams of all women playing basketball and loads of spectators picnicking and socializing on the sidelines, there are DJ’s spinning music all day, a spirit award contest that goes to the team with the most creative outfits and enthusiasm plus a three-point shooting contest. And for the second year in a row, Portland’s finest female police officers and firefighters are once again going to square off in a tough but sure to be fun, Portland Police vs. Portland Fire & Rescue showdown exhibition basketball game!
The tournament is run entirely by volunteers. Whether it’s the people that show up at the crack of dawn to set up or stay to tear down, the DJ’s spinning music, the referees making the calls and keeping things moving, the massage therapists easing the pains of the players or the local vendors who make sure all volunteers are fed – this event runs on local helping hands. All of this community teamwork and fun packed into one day that supports women in sports and LGBTQ+ equality.
Jeannie Watkins, lead referee remarked,
“I look forward to this tournament every year. Players, all women, young and old 'er' and of multiple skill levels - uniting to play a sport they love in the shadows of Irving Park in NE Portland. Friends, strangers, family, neighbors and a lot of fun - all in the name of love and basketball. And most importantly – the Human Rights Campaign.”
If you’re interested in playing or want additional information, go to: HRC Women's 3x3 Basketball Tournament for more information! Good luck to the players.