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Monday, February 6, 2012

UT's Old Gym

When I first started coaching girls basketball, we played our games at UT's high school building down past Soule Bowl but up on a hill. I am not sure whether it was a building that also housed freshmen classes or frosh-soph classes. It was an old building in the 1970's.

The gym was unique. On one side of the floor were permanent bleachers. There were probably about 12-15 rows of bleachers. The teams sat in the front row. On the other side, there was about a 3-4 foot drop off and theater seats. If the ball went out of bounds on that side, it would take awhile to locate the ball and get things back in play. As I remember, the edge of the basketball court was about 15 feet from the drop off so I don't remember any players going off the edge.

The basketball court obviously in one era had served as dual purpose facility- gym and stage/auditorium. I am told in the 1940's and 1950's when it was the main facility boys basketball, they filled both the bleacher side and the auditorium side for games.

An interesting anecdote from that era that I have heard. On a particular night, there was a loud and obnoxious East Moline fan sitting behind the Galesburg bench. During one time out, Coach John Thiel remarked, "I wish someone would shut him up." One of the loyal bench players took Thiel to heart. During the next time out when the guy started to yell at Galesburg again, the young man stepped over and punched the guy. As the story goes, it indeed did shut the man up, but it also resulted in the team having to go to the police station to get their teammate. I don't know if the story is true or not- it is interesting.

While this gym in the 1970's and 1980's handled all the specator needs of girls basketball, it had to be tough on the girls of that era to know they had to play in that facility.

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