A Slam Dunk for Equality: Fifth Annual Women’s Basketball Tourney Raises Funds and Spirits

bball blog pic 1

Editor’s note: The author of this post is the organizer of the event.

By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly

It’s that time of year again — sunshine, BBQs, camping and women’s basketball. That’s right, the one-of-a-kind Portland Women’s 3×3 Basketball Tournament will be celebrating its fifth year of women hoopin’ it up in the park on Saturday, July 20, and everyone is invited.

What makes the event so unique? It’s the only 3×3 women’s only basketball tournament in the entire state and possibly the entire nation. This tournament is all inclusive — women of all ages (18 to 60-plus!) and skill level participate. Last year, 32 teams signed up to play and a similar turnout is anticipated this year.

“This is a premiere women’s tournament,” says Head Referee Jeannie Watkins. “Not only does it raise thousands of dollars for equality, it promotes a wonderful atmosphere of sportsmanship, friendship, and an intrinsic love for the game of basketball. It has, and will remain, on my calendar every year.”

This year’s tournament is benefit for both the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Oregon United for Marriage (OU4M).  If you’re out of the loop, let me get you in the loop: HRC is the largest LGBTQ political and civil rights organization in the United States, with over a million members and supporters, and OU4M is a broad coalition of individuals and organizations working to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Oregon.

“We’re so excited to be a part of the 5th Annual Portland Women’s 3×3 Basketball Tournament on July 20,” says Juan Martinez, development director for OU4M’s parent organization Basic Rights Oregon. “This is one of several examples of how Oregon United for Marriage and HRC will be working together to build a winning campaign for marriage equality in Oregon.”

The tournament has always been about raising awareness of the need for basic rights and equality in the LGBTQ community, promoting women in sports, and bringing our community together.  Since Oregon is in line for marriage equality in 2014, it’s a fantastic time for OU4M to be partnering with HRC for this event.  In fact, OU4M’s petition signature drive kicks off the same day as the tournament. Basketball and the “summer of love” – fabulous.

Aside from the awareness and money raised each year for a great cause – LGBTQ equality – the spirit of the tournament is also about building community and having fun. This tournament would not happen without so much community involvement and support from the countless volunteers and referees to sponsors such as NikePQ Monthly, and Paulson Coletti Attorneys, among so many others.

“The Portland women’s 3×3 basketball tournament is easily one of Portland’s summer highlights,” says tournament emcee and sports broadcaster Ann Schatz. It’s a perfect blend of hoops at every turn: all ages and skill levels are represented for a full day of fun and competition. But what really separates this tournament is the community feel and outreach. Makes for a perfect summer afternoon.”

So whether hoopin’ it up on the courts, listening to DJ’s Mr Charming (Mary Charming) and Roy G Biv (Katey Pants) spin wicked music all day long, participating in the “spirit award” (an award given to the team with the best team name, overall enthusiasm and creative outfits), or just picnicking and spectating on the sidelines in the sun – it’s all about fun and community.

“This tournament makes me feel proud to be able to participate and involve myself with one of my favorite passions [basketball],” says fifth year participant Julia Osborn. “I’m so happy to be a part of something that has grown into a huge success for our rights involving athletics.”

If you would like to register to play check out www.hrc.org/pdxbasketball.  If you just want to cheer on the teams, volunteer, or enjoy a day in the sun supporting women and equality, Irving Park (NE 7th and Fremont) on July 20 (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)  is the place to be!

ShaleyShaley Howard is a sports writer for PQ Monthly as well as an athlete, sports enthusiast, and organizer of the annual HRC Women’s 3×3 Basketball Tournament. She is also is the owner and operator of Scratch N’ Sniff Pet Care, which she considers the best job in the world. Shaley can be reached at shaley@pqmonthly.com.