GROWING UP IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, Riley Stockton ’15 always played in that city’s widely known Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament in the world.
Now that he’s all grown up, he’s running the tournament as its executive director.
“When I was 15 years old in health class, I wrote that it was my dream job [to work at Hoopfest],” said Stockton, who is the nephew of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton.
The tournament shut down in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Riley Stockton was hired in 2021 as the organization was planning ahead for when the games could resume.
Stockton became an intimate part of that planning from his first day on the job.
“I was just trying to wrap my head around everything,” he said. “I’ve been in the events world with the Special Olympics USA Games [in 2018]. So, I have a good feel of events, but not all sides of it. There was a little bit of a learning curve. I felt like I was drinking out of a firehose.”
Although he’s played in 14 prior Hoopfests, he didn’t compete this year when the 31st annual tournament resumed June 25-26.
“We knew there were going to be challenges throughout the day but seeing all of your hard work, and all of your staff’s hard work, come together, it was just excitement,” Stockton said.
This year, more than 3,500 teams and 14,000 athletes competed at Hoopfest.
“It’s such an important event for our city,” Stockton said. “One of my big goals was making it feel like a Spokane event again and getting all of those volunteers back who are so important to us.”
During his four years at Seattle Pacific, Stockton starred on the court and in the classroom. His 4,054 minutes of men’s basketball action at SPU was the most by any player in school history. He was a two-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. And the business administration major also earned numerous scholar-athlete awards with a 3.84 grade-point average.
Stockton credits Grant Leep, now SPU’s men’s head basketball coach, with sharing valuable knowledge that helped him reach his dream job with Hoopfest.
“So many lessons I learned leadership-wise in basketball, I took from Coach Leep,” Stockton said. “Some of the stuff he taught me in my first conversations with him — like how to be a good leader and how to be authentic to yourself — definitely came into play.”
Photo courtesy The Spokesman Review