A Place You Only Get To See Once A Year
When it comes to sports today newer is better. Just look at the facilities upgrades in college football, where players choose the team. So why does one of the most well-known private high schools in the state still hold onto a gym that is heading into its 100th year of service? Because, at least one night each year the school holds a sporting event completely different than anything fans under 50 have seen in their lifetime. Unless of course they are a Caravan grad.
It is no accident that the first photo of this gym breakdown is in black & white. The places looks and feels old. It is old! Even in person it’s possible to look around the gym and not see anything in color. The dark-brown balcony, known as “The Ring of Honor,” wraps around the court and stands apart from the beige brick, painted white walls & white ceiling. Aside from the golden-brown color of the wooden court floor, there is no other color in the gym apart from the glow of the old scoreboard.
There are about 5 rows of permanent retractable bleachers at court level that run the length of the sidelines. During events chairs are placed at the baselines with portable bleachers behind them. A large open space underneath the balcony typically houses a concession stand for events like their annual “Fight Night,” a set of intramural boxing bouts, but they’ve also had concessions in a hallway outside the gym. The open space also seems to double as a place for little kids to run around, or wrestlers to get in their mental space before a match.
Little things to check out while you’re there: Chances are they’ll have the windows open as this place gets warm when it’s packed. So make sure to see if you can catch the trains going by on the tracks directly west of the gym. You’ll definitely hear them. A set of nice wooden-closest doors line the north wall of the balcony. And while it won’t be easy to miss, the championship banners lining the ceiling reflect a simpler time and complement the room very well. Much different than the banners lining the new athletic center.
Mount Carmel’s gym in the current era
While Mount Carmel may have won a basketball state championship in 1985 playing hoops in Alumni Gym, and had players like Antoine Walker there in the 1990s; there are very few schools in the new millennia, public or private, that could get by with a setting like Alumni Gym only. One of my favorite stories about the gym is from one of the Mount Carmel athletic staff who told me that, during on select games played in Alumni gym recently, they were approached by a mom from suburban school. She was very unhappy and thought the setting was unsafe for fans and players, because of the close proximity between the sideline bleachers and the court.