New gym doesn't yet feel like home
A little over two years ago, I moved into a new apartment.
And even though I unpacked all of my belongings long ago, and I’ve lived there for two years, I’m still getting used to calling the place home.
This fall, the new Washington High School opened on the south side of town. And while covering volleyball games in the gymnasium this fall, I noticed a sign above the scoreboard that reads: “Home of the Demons.”
I don’t know how the athletes who play in that gym have adjusted to playing there, but, to me, the place doesn’t feel much like home yet.
The place is too new, too shiny. It still smells new. It doesn’t feel broken in, kind of like a pair of new basketball sneakers.
You could argue that I’m getting older. That I’m becoming too set in my ways. But I’ve never really liked change.
I don’t like when my favorite television shows go off the air. It’s like there’s a small void in my life. Same for when one of my favorite shirts gets a hole in it. I hated it when Facebook made me change to the timeline format.
As I wrote about in a column earlier this year, I covered 140 varsity basketball games at the old high school gymnasium — now the middle school gymnasium — as well as numerous volleyball matches and wrestling meets. So obviously I spent a lot of time there, so much that you could call it a home away from home. That place is full of memories for me, as I’m sure it is for many Demon fans. I can think of many thrilling Demon victories that occurred there, as well as some humbling defeats.
One of my favorite memories is of a key late-season basketball game against rival Mt. Pleasant in 2006. The Demons and Panthers met with the Southeast Conference championship on the line, and so many fans showed up that people were turned away at the door. The game went right down to the wire, and Mt. Pleasant’s Jacob Rohde scored a layup with 13 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a one-point win. Even though the Demons lost, it was an outstanding game in an outstanding atmosphere.
I just haven’t seen a game or a match that memorable yet in the new gym. But I’m sure I will, starting this winter as the Washington girls’ basketball team attempts to repeat as conference champions and the Demon wrestling team tries to continue building upon previous successes.
I’ve always liked older gyms. Like IMS’ Hillcrest Union, which is old and small, and gives you the impression that the entire town of Kalona is crammed into that little crackerbox gym. The same goes for the gym at Keota High School. Iowa City Regina has an old fieldhouse type of gym. And Mid-Prairie’s Tim Grady Gymnasium can get pretty full at times.
That being said, I like the new gym at the new Washington High School. It’s a beautiful facility. It has the look of the old gym — minus the balcony — but is an updated and much nicer place to play.
It’s just going to take some getting used to.