Alumni Gym is the stuff of legends, writes sports information director Adam Levin.
Edited by Adam Levin, Sports Information Director
“…that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff.”—George Carlin
Alumni Gym Has the Right Stuff
The life of a college sports information director, when you get right down to it, is all about stuff.
Over the winter, the Bates sports information office temporarily moved out of the crowded Office of College Relations building on Nichols Street. Some of the hundreds of head shots, team photos, floppy disks, record books, phone lists, newspaper clippings, game reports, rosters, lists, pens, pencils, and sporting knickknacks and paraphernalia were sacrificed to the Big Paper Shredder in the sky. Most of the stuff, however, found a new life in one of the coolest places on campus to keep stuff: Alumni Gymnasium.
Alumni Gym has been home to Bates basketball since 1925, longer than any other gym in New England and all but nine other courts in the country. The place brims with stuff that’s even older. The balcony overlooking the court contains more Bates artifacts and photographs than any campus location not named after a former U.S. secretary of state. Baseballs and footballs and hockey pucks commemorate Bobcat victories from the ’90s—the 1890s, that is.
If you followed last summer’s exploits of Olympic rower Mike Ferry ’97 or baseball and football player Jason Coulie ’00, then you would probably also appreciate the display with medals and photos from the trip Raymond Buker ’22 took to the Olympics to compete in one- and two-mile runs in Paris in 1924. Or Kevin Murphy ’77’s retired football jersey; he also starred on the diamond.
The current sports information staff includes some well-known student names around campus, like Bates Student columnist and radio color commentator Andy Stanton ’01 and men’s hoops 3-point bomber Billy Hart ’02. As the unpacking of the stuff continued in Alumni, Stanton asked why in the world there were five copies of the January 22, 1990, Sports Illustrated. In with articles about John Elway taking his team to the Super Bowl and Duke freshman guard Bobby Hurley, the “Faces in the Crowd” feature included Bobcat Michele Feroah ’90. That fall, she led the Bates volleyball team to one of three undefeated seasons in NCAA Division III history. Her career assist records were just surpassed this year by Kate Hagstrom ’01.
It gets so hot upstairs you need to open a window even in January. That’s part of the old-school (and old-building) atmosphere of a facility like Alumni Gym. Division III has no false nostalgia like a Camden Yards or Jacobs Field. The quirks are natural—like Fenway Park—like handball-court lines on the upstairs floor outside the skiing office. Like the hand-carved wooden board commemorating Maine state series championships from the first half of the last century.
Not too many other volleyball teams need to remind their opponents that balls ricocheting off the rafters are still in play. But that’s why they call it a home-court advantage.
The Bobcats only need a couple hundred fans behind them in Alumni Gym to make it sound like a couple thousand. When Bowdoin, Colby, or any NESCAC opponent is in the building, calling out the action on the court, so the sports information staff can create a box score (to add to the pile of stuff), means a sore throat and the end of the night.
But for a sports fan, even a paid one, that’s a small price to pay for seeing a great game in a great place. You add the box score to the pile of stuff, hoping someone will find it someday and think, “I wish I had been there to see that.”
A new feature in Alumni Gym is a display listing the College’s 1,000-point basketball scorers. Three Bobcats had added their names to the list through late season: Rommel Padonou ’01, Kate McLaughlin ’01, and Alex Wilson ’02. Two more, Ed Walker ’02 and Billy Hart ’02, were within range as of late season. When Walker and Hart reach the milestone, they, along with Wilson, will be only the second class in Bates history with three 1,000-point scorers. The Class of 1992’s Sean McDonagh, Tim Collins and Darrel Akers accomplished the feat a decade ago.
Darkness at Merrill
A blackout at the Slovenski Indoor Track created one of most unusual finishes in Maine state meet history in February.
The final event—the 4 x 800-meter relay—began with the lights on as an evening windstorm howled outside. Midway through the first lap, the facility was plunged briefly into complete darkness. When power came back several seconds later, the track was still mostly dark. The only illumination came from fluorescent lights in the lobby and other secondary sources. The overhead halogen lamps lighting the track, requiring minutes to brighten, remained dark.
Officials initially tried to flag down the runners, but gave up as the runners churned through the blackness.
Further confusion arose when the runners in the second leg handed off to the third-leg runners after completing just three laps (600 meters) instead of four (800 meters). Bates won the event (though not the meet), and the times were discarded because of the nontraditional length of the event.
“I had never seen anything like that in my life,” said Bates head coach Al Fereshetian. “Everyone said it was the most fun they have had at a track meet in a long time.”