Ceremony to reintroduce pro basketball team was held Thursday afternoon
The mayor welcomed back professional basketball Thursday afternoon.
So, too, did the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
The Vancouver Volcanoes will be playing in The Basketball League beginning in March of 2022, a return of the Volcanoes brand.
City and business leaders said hello to the league president as well as the team market owner at a ceremony at Camas Meadows Golf Course.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said she had heard rumors that the franchise, formerly the Portland Storm, was looking at several communities for a place to relocate.
“I’ll tell those mayors, they are missing out on the big-time,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “How wonderful that the Volcanoes have chosen us. This is another small business that is growing. We’re absolutely delighted.”
“This is the exact type of organization we want to see here in the business community,” said Janet Kenefsky, vice president of operations for the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. “An organization that really cares about the people, the place, and the spectators who will be out supporting them.”
The brand is not starting from scratch. The Volcanoes played at Clark College for years with the International Basketball League, winning a league title in 2011. That league ended operations in 2014, though.
Curtis Hill, a former player, is now the team market owner.
“It was a no-brainer for me, after living the Volcano experience, to bring the team back here,” Hill said. “It was bigger than basketball for me. Getting involved with the community and interaction with the children, it was great.”
Jeff Perrault, who will be the head coach of the Volcanoes, praised former Volcanoes ownership, led by Bryan Hunter, for the work all those years ago.
“He was very gracious to let us continue that brand, continue that tradition. What he did here … was remarkable,” Perrault said. “That’s a lot of the reason we chose Vancouver. We saw the film. We saw the stands filled up. We saw the atmosphere they had created.”
The Basketball League is finishing its fourth season. It expanded to 29 teams this season and Dave Magley, the league president, said he expects more than 40 teams across the country for next season. It is considered professional basketball. The players do get paid.
Magley compared the league to baseball levels. The NBA is the top, equivalent of Major League Baseball. Then there is the G-League, like Triple-A baseball. Then comes The Basketball League, the equivalent of Double-A, he said.
The league is expanding into several markets in the Northwest. With more than 40 teams nationwide, the league cuts travel costs by playing in regions only for the regular season. Then the top teams will make the playoffs.
The league is to help develop young players who still have the dream of making it big, or for older players who might not make it to the NBA but still want to play organized, competitive ball.
A couple of TBL players were on hand at the ceremony Thursday, as well, including Justin Wofford of Milwaukie, Wis.
“I love this league. It’s an opportunity for players to showcase their talents, pretty much climb the ladder,” Wofford said.
He will be leaving to play in a Mexican league later this summer. But he plans on being back in America by next spring. He does not know what team he will be playing for, but he does expect to be in The Basketball League. Maybe even with the Volcanoes.
“Any opportunity to play ball in front of the camera is a blessing,” he said.
The Basketball League also preaches community outreach. It cannot just be about basketball, Magley said.