What is fast, high scoring and builds community?
What makes a strong community? Good schools, safe and friendly neighborhoods, effective government, busy libraries, good people…What about sports? How do athletics and athletes factor into to the picture?
When you live in a small city, you don’t expect to have a pro basketball team, particularly when there is an NBA team just across the river. But we DO have a team! The Vancouver Volcanoes, our semi-pro basketball team of the International Basketball League, played its home opener on May 7.
The game was just as much about community as sports. From the welcome by the Volcanoes dance team in the foyer of the Clark College O’Connell Sports Center to children’s face painting to an on-court family shoot out during the break and a raffle, the evening was about community. Even when a errant fire alarm briefly sent the audience and players out onto the college lawn, the kids turned it into a chance to race around the grounds and play with the Volcanoes canine mascot.
Reminiscent of Everett Giants baseball games we attended in the 1990s, it was a family-oriented evening. In the words of team owner Bryan Hunter, from the game program:
“A Volcanoes game is more than just a basketball game. What we have done is created an event that focuses on activities that are fun and exciting for everyone, with the added emphasis on families and their children.”
So what about the game? I am not a sports writer but can safely report that the game was fast, high scoring with lots of three-pointers in a rough physical battle with the Yamhill HighFlyers. The team members are former college players who obviously love the game, including local Prairie High star Devin Uskoski.
While the teams were definitely serious about winning, there was a refreshing friendliness to the game. Where else would you see a player and referee, arm in arm, smiling about a play? You know you’re not in a mega-coliseum when you can hear what the coach is yelling to his players (or the ref) and what the players are yelling back (not always publishable). It’s full-court involvement for everyone and a lot of fun.
The final score? 135-110. We won. Go Volcanoes!
Was it better than driving to Portland, paying high prices for tickets and food, and watching players from a distant seat? The players weren’t as polished but, yes, for my money, it was more fun. An added bonus — we walked to the game. My only complaint would be about hard bleacher seats. Next time, we’ll take cushions. Not a big deal.
The Volcanoes season offers 10 home games with the last local game on June 27.Tickets are only $5 for adults 18 and over and free for kids. Details are at www.vancouvervolcanoes.com Go Volcanoes! Go Vancouver!