Sunday, December 31, 2017

barn find

If you watch the television show American Pickers then you are familiar with the phrase "barn find" - which in the case of Mike & Frank (the pickers) usually refers to some unrestored gem of transportation history (bicycle, motorcycle or car).  In our case, a "barn find" is some aspect of Hoosier Hysteria housed in the confines of hand-hewed poplar. We've been to Crocker's barn (destroyed by the remnants of a hurricane), Comer's barn (where the old Lawrenceburg gym has been resurrected), Werner's barn (home court to our northwest Indiana friend Matt Werner), Noah's barn (abandoned Amish arena) and now, Walker's barn.  If you can envision a time before year-round basketball & open gyms, a time when winter nights were dark and long, then you can understand why Hoosier roundball took up residence inside innumerable tobacco & cattle barns.  Such was the case in the late 1950's on the Walker farm, outside of Gentryville.  Dick Walker (91) decided that his two sons & their classmates needed a gym where they could perfect Indiana's game so he built one in the upper deck of his barn - not just one hoop or an abbreviated court but a gymnasium.  Through the years Walker's barn became the place to go if you wanted to hone your skills and play a little ball.  And though the barn now sits empty, memories fill the rafters as Dick's son Steve gives us a walking tour of the old structure.  This poplar, this hay dust, these rusting rims - a great barn find harkening back to a forgotten era of Hoosier high school basketball.  © Chris Smith


Saturday, December 23, 2017

east gym, west gym

By now you know we've seen a lot of Hoosier high school gyms - 225 so far.  Small ones, big ones, sunken & domed; we've seen them being refurbished and some wasting away to decay, but we've never encountered an "east gym" and a "west gym."  But that was before we came to the sprawling campus of Center Grove.  A 4A school with a large enrollment (over 2500) - CG is big enough to house two full size gyms.  The west gym is the oldest and one we've become familiar with in southern Indiana - a sunken structure designed by architect Ralph Legeman (think New Castle, Connersville and Brownstown) and although 'retired' as the main varsity facility, it is still home to many Trojan activities. The east gym serves as CG's main stage now, full of early season midweek basketball fans, cheerleaders, dance team members and half time shooters on the night we came.  Perry Meridian was also a guest, albeit treated like an unwelcome one after the home team served up 71 points to their 45.  At this point in our project I would like to say that we have seen it all, but until we discover the place with a 'north' and 'south' gyms I guess our journey is not complete.  
© Chris Smith

Monday, December 18, 2017

township gyms

We have Sam Alford to thank for these two gems - Union and Clark Townships.  Former high school gyms, they now proudly serve a new group of students at the elementary level.  Although both are located in Johnson County (south of Indianapolis), Union Township seems to have the more illustrious basketball history, with three county championships (1932, 1948 & 1949) and a Sectional title in 1952.  The home of the Ramblers (Union) also possesses one of the more unique "trophies" we have seen - an animal hide proclaiming their 1932 county crown.  But whatever their history was, they both seem well prepared to serve their communities for many years to come.   © Chris Smith

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

last run for turkey run

2008 was the beginning of a great run for the Lady Warriors of Turkey Run High School.  You see, 2008 was the first of four Sectional titles in a row, which led to back to back Regional crowns (2010, 2011) and to top things off, a trip to the 1A State Championship game (2011).  Ultimately they would lose that game to Vincennes Rivet, 49-40, but that's not the saddest part of this story.  Since that championship season the Lady Warriors have hit hard times (21-107) and this season (0-11 at the time of this post) things don't seem much better.  The night we visited the beautiful old gym the Warriors were taking on a good Attica Red Rambler team and they played hard, scrapping all the way to the final buzzer, but in the end it was another tough loss.  It's hard enough to carry around a losing season on your shoulders, it's even harder when you know it will be the last season;  for next year will bring about school consolidation with regional rival Rockville.  From what we understand the Turkey Run gym will still serve as home court for the new school's varsity teams but sadly, the story of the Lady Warriors of Turkey Run is coming to an end.   © Chris Smith

Saturday, December 2, 2017

boys will be boys...

no matter how old they are.  At Millhousen, alumni from North Decatur & Jac-Cen-Del continue the tradition on Monday nights.  © Chris Smith

Thursday, November 30, 2017

shortridge & much more

Take a grand old school (one of the most beautiful in the state), add a historic gym (during girl's varsity practice - a program with its own historic past), throw in another great gym with three games (varsity, jv & freshmen) between rivals (Shortridge Blue Devils & Broad Ripple Rockets) and top it all off with a Blue Devils alumni recognition ceremony (that also included Broad Ripple alumni).  That pretty much sums up our evening at Indianapolis Shortridge - except that I forgot to mention that this is the last season for Broad Ripple and that many of its current students will attend Shortridge next year.  Wow, what a night.  © Chris Smith