The reason I stared going around the state looking for some of the best high school gyms, had almost nothing to do with the construction of new state-of-the-art athletic facilities, but more to do with the passing of awkward, antiquated, and crumbling old gyms. Each year there are less and less of these amazing old structures left. Places that were built primarily for basketball.
So, as Mount Carmel prepares to host St. Francis de Sales in the Alumni Gym with a varsity basketball game for the first time in awhile, I thought it would be fitting if I highlighted one of these hidden gyms that show up only at certain times. Just like some magical portal in a movie that takes the main character back in time or to another land, Mount Carmel Catholic High School in Chicago has been opening the doors and dusting off the bleachers for one magical throwback game in its original gym at least once a year in the last two school years.
Last school year it was for a wrestling meet between Crown Point H.S. from Indiana and the Caravan, both nationally ranked teams. Making the moment even more intense was the single spotlight over the mat for the varsity portion of the meet.
While I have been reluctant to talk about just where I rank certain gyms, it’s #5 on my list, Alumni Gym is one I can easily make an argument to be included in most people’s top 10 for the state. Especially if you’re including atmosphere of a packed house.
Sadly as Mount Carmel has their first varsity basketball game in Alumni Gym in sometime, hosting St. Francis de Sales this Friday night, Dec. 16, 2022. I will be across the state documenting the Battle of Rock Island as Alleman hosts Rock Island H.S. However, if you’re a high school hoops fan and want to marvel at a site you’ll have to wait a whole year to see again, I’d advise you show up earlier than the 7pm tipoff at 6410 S. Dante Ave.
The de Sales’ Pioneer Dome
Since this throw-back game is between two high schools that saw some great years of hoops around the same time (Mt. Carmel was the Class AA 1985 State Champs, de Sales was the Class AA 1988 runner-up) I thought it would be a great Catholic League two-for-one gym post.
St. Francis de Sales isn’t talked about as much as it once was when it comes to sports, but the school’s gym is easily one of the cooler gyms in the Chicago Catholic League.