[This is the fourth post in a series titled “Gym tour: 2013-14” — click here to see all the posts in this series — in which I will profile the gymnasiums I travel to while covering high school sports.]
DELPHOS, Ohio — The fourth stop on the blog tour (but certainly not the order in which I visited this gym) takes me to Delphos, Ohio, and The Stage.
The Stage is the inspiration behind this entire blog series, as it is, and was, probably the strangest gymnasium I will encounter.
Until the next one, at least, right?
The reason I started this series is to chronicle the different gyms I get to visit as part of my job as sports editor. With the rich history that is high school basketball in the state of Indiana, I never thought the strangest gym I (have so far) experienced would come from Ohio.
However, this venue in particular is the one with which I have the least information.
Alas, I present to you, The Stage.
Aptly named for its multipurpose use, The Stage is half basketball court, half auditorium. It is located as part of the Delphos Jefferson Middle School, but houses the Jefferson High School basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams.
With the Wildcats as its mascot, Jefferson’s colors are red and white.
Fans enter the arena on the auditorium side, complete with padded theater seating. Above the entrance is a balcony seating as you would see in a typical theater.
The basketball court is elevated from the theater seating, and on the flanks are curtains and above are rows of stage lighting. The court/stage sits about four feet above the seating level, giving the front few rows of people the pleasure of a different perspective to watch the game; looking up. The theater-style seating is generally where the Jefferson fans sit.
On the opposite sideline there are bleachers, with the scorers table placed in the middle. Above the Jefferson bench — to the right if you’re looking at the table from center court — is the student section. The left side of the scorer’s table is the visiting bench and above them is where their fans would sit.
Perched (not very high) above the bleachers is a relatively small media booth.
At this venue, I watched the Fort Recovery (Ohio) Indians come from behind to beat the Wildcats, a game in which FRHS senior Elijah Kahlig dropped 30 points.
The problem in shooting in this arena is the walls below the basket were so close to the court. As I was posted under the hoop, I constantly had to stop shooting photos because I had to make sure the referee didn’t hit me, and on countless occasions I had my hand resting on his back to protect the both of us and so he also knew I was there. It was a constant back-and-forth communication between me and the referees to ensure none of us would get injured (or my camera busted).
What made things even more interesting about this venue, is the two corners near the edge of the stage (the sidelines were about five feet from the sideline) were less than a foot away from a wall. So if someone decided to rush after a ball that was heading out of bounds towards the corner, they had to be careful not to go head first into a solid, cinderblock wall.
And there’s also the fear of falling off the stage.