The gym needs to be replaced and the school district has the plans in hand to demolish the old gym and replace it with a much more modern facility to better suit the needs of present-day students, coaches and athletes. The old gym is coming down within the near future.
On Thursday evening, Jan. 10, the girls and boys basketball teams honored the old gym by playing one last game in the edifice. All of the former coaches that graced the hardwood floors over the years were invited to attend. The teams also celebrated Parents Night, packing the three rows of bench seats that closely surround the floor.
The gym played host to Pawnee High School games through 1985 when the high school shut down and the district then finished at the eighth-grade level. The Indians were district champs in basketball several times over the years and went even deeper into the playoffs at times. The Pettus Eagles were the big rival, and the gym was always filled to the rafters for the local rivalry.
The old gym even hosted the famous traveling troop of hoopsters, the Harlem Globetrotters in 1979.
“It was a state of the art gym back in 1948,” said former coach Roger Overby.
The gym reminds a visitor of a design used extensively by the military during and after World War II. It was and still is, at least for a few more days, in the style of a quonset hut, common and well known as the rounded ceiling of the barracks on almost every military base during those times.
The basketball court is within inches of the bleachers and fans can almost reach out and touch a player on the court. The lights have been in long need of repair, but the district decided to forego the expense and scheduled all of this year’s games as road contests, except the one last night to honor the old gym, its coaches and the thousands of memories of those who have passed through the gym.
Former coaches in attendance on Thursday evening were honored at ceremonies between the two basketball games that pitted the Redwings and Indians against the visiting Nordheim Pirates. The coaches included Coach Moff (1954-55), Roger Overby (1960-65), Lacy Pogue (1966-68), Dorothy Pogue (1959-61), Genaro Gonzales (1972-81), Bobby De Leon (1975-2006), Mary De Leon (1973-79) and Belinda Belyeu (1981-2000). They were announced and joined by present coaches Abby Brown and Bobby Del Bosque at center court as the crowd in attendance acknowledged their contributions to the Pawnee ISD athletic department and to their children.
The Redwings lost a closely contested decision to the young Lady Pirates, 21-18, but hustled and played hard throughout. The Indians, however, sent the old gym off in style with a resounding 41-13 victory that capped off the building’s 64-year service in Pawnee.