Old sports venues more than his­tory

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher for The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca.

The gym­na­sium at Booth Me­mo­rial High School in St. John’s can only be called a throw­back.

It’s a place steeped in his­tory and walk­ing into the ven­er­a­ble gym­na­sium is like tak­ing a step through time.

It’s weath­ered hard­wood floor, pullout wooden bleach­ers and old-style rims re­mind spec­ta­tors of the days when play­ers wore short shorts and high socks ac­com­pa­nied by Chuck Tay­lor sneak­ers.

Ev­ery squeak of sneak­ers re­minds you of days gone by.

Ev­ery squeak of sneak­ers re­minds you of days gone by. One can only imag­ine the great bas­ket­ball games had be­tween park­ing lot ri­vals the Booth Braves and the Bish­ops Barons over the years.

You have to marvel at the space that has stood the test of time. It is ca­pa­ble now, as it was when it was first built, to han­dle top-flight ath­let­ics. Its cramped space gives it that feel­ing.

It is a feel­ing that’s hard to de­scribe. All you know is that you love it.

The cramped side­lines, fans breath­ing down your neck and the smaller court are things that just make the games feel bet­ter in­side those four walls.

Ath­letes be­come in­spired just be­cause they’re play­ing in the old gym. Sure, the new gym is nicer, but the old one has char­ac­ter.

The same can be said for Bish­ops. Next sea­son, St. John’s sports fans will lose both of those his­toric gyms when the new school is fin­ished. They’ll lose the ri­valry too, but that’s an­other story for an­other time.

Turn­ing our at­ten­tion home­ward, we’ll likely be do­ing the same thing in a cou­ple of years. The well-pre­served gym at St. Fran­cis in Har­bour Grace, along with the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in the same com­mu­nity, are two such venues that we will even­tu­ally end up say­ing so long.

The S.W. Moores has seen it all when it comes to hockey in this prov­ince. Herder fi­nals, pro­fes­sional play­ers and mi­nor hockey have all had their op­por­tu­ni­ties to shine in the 50-year-old arena.

At times, it seems ev­ery cor­ner of the rink holds a dif­fer­ent story fea­tur­ing Alex Faulkner, Keith De­laney or Jim Pen­ney. The ri­valry be­tween As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts and St. Fran­cis bub­bled there in front of fans that lit­er­ally hung from the rafters.

The gym­na­sium at St. Fran­cis is not close — as far as I know — to shut­ting its doors for good. And, that is wel­come news.

Old venues like the ones in Har­bour Grace are more than pieces of the com­mu­nity. Over time, they’ve wo­ven them­selves into the fab­ric of the area. They’ve be­come pieces of his­tory in them­selves.

Ev­ery mem­ory, good or bad, adds it­self to that his­tory. They are more than just build­ings. In some in­stances, they are living or­gan­isms.

They fa­cil­i­tate new mem­o­ries amongst younger play­ers. They add to the al­ready im­pres­sive story be­ing told by those places.

When we lose them, you can’t get them back. Sure, the mem­o­ries re­main with you, but they’re a bit more faded.

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