DE PERE, Wis. — I got to see another old gym tonight. I’m at St. Norbert this weekend to see the Green Knights open a new football stadium against No. 5 St. Thomas and got the tour of campus from sports information director Dan Lukes.
When we drove by a particular building, Dan mentioned that it used to be the gym, and I asked if we could get out and see it. We couldn’t get in the gym itself, but it is indeed still a gymnasium. This being September, there were volleyball nets up. There are glass backboards, with “No Dunking Allowed” on the bottom of the glass.
The playing floor is just 77 feet long — just long enough to make a Grinnell game even more of a breakneck speed. If you have ever been in the old gym at Mount St. Mary’s, yes, the Division I school in Emmitsburg, Md., this looks exactly like it. It has a big wall with windows on the end — in this case, facing the Fox River instead of U.S. 15, a high vaulted ceiling, and was built in the 1930s. I could almost picture Jim Phelan stalking the sidelines in a bow tie, although in this case, I was told that Dick Bennett coached in the last game St. Norbert played in the gym, for UW-Stevens Point.
I’ve written about my fascination with old gymnasiums before. Since then, I’ve added the old gym at Wash U to my list (it’s connected to the new gym), as well as the old gym at Stevens. I think Randolph-Macon may be my favorite, however.