I’ve spent a good portion of my life in gymnasiums. As a player, coach, parent, and fan I’m sure I’ve had the pleasure of visiting 100 or more over the years. Some standout from the rest whether it be the floor itself, the stands, or even the fan base that keeps certain venues distinctly clear in my mind.
Thinking back to high school and playing in the Wasaren it was always fun to travel to Schuylerville because the crowd was great. They turned out in force and were vocal all night. Opposing players were guaranteed to hear comments directed towards them throughout the contest, none resembling a heartfelt “Merry Christmas”. Loved it.
Certainly the old Hoosic Valley gym, a floor that was my home for four seasons is near the top of my list. Affectionately known as a “bandbox” by opposing coaches, players and fans, you could take a rebound off the glass, push it up the floor with four hard dribbles and be in shooting range. The 10 second line was the opposite foul line which most visiting teams would forget on a nightly basis giving the ball back to us on the over and back violation
With the smaller floor came limited seating as well. A stage on one side overlooking the teams benches, and bleachers running the length of the court on the opposite side 10 rows high. Every night I played on that floor the place was packed and it felt like the fans were right on top of you. Our “Murder’s Row” of fanatics sitting in the front bleacher on the stage side hung right over the top of the benches, supporting the Valley, but with a different kind of support for the opposing squad. Great atmosphere.
Come sectional time the old Troy high gym and the Mechanicville court downtown were great venues. My junior year we played Mechanicville in a second round run, the first of two that night at the Shenedahowa gym and you couldn’t have squeezed another body into the place.
I also remember my sophomore year playing Hoosick Falls up in Saratoga where a trumpet player led the anthem from the balcony. We lost close that night to the Panthers, but that rendition of the anthem resonated with a then 15 year old Valley guard.
Those are some of my favorite places over the years where I’ve enjoyed this great sport of basketball. How about yours?
Using our comment section, I invite you to weigh in with thoughts about your top basketball venues in the area and what makes them special to you.