college diploma #1
The gym in my days, and for several decades before me, was known as Goodman Auditorium. It was a classic barrel-vaulted gymnasium with a stage at one end and lots of wood. Today Bethel boasts a new gym, connected to Goodman with a large lobby filled with hall of famers. We arrived a few minutes before the game began so I took the kids over to Goodman and we stepped inside. I'm not sure what I expected.
While it certainly brought back loads of memories including Freshman orientation and chapel in my first year, and Homecoming and graduation my senior year, it was the basketball games that without question made the gym come to life. And I think that's what I tried to recapture Thursday night. Crowded Goodman moved and breathed like you would expect any Hoosier high school gym on a Friday night. But the feeling was far more intense. Packed into the little gym, with your friends and classmates on the court, only the buzzer could drown out the noise from the bleachers. And there was that smell that came from years of perspiration, old wood, and court sealer.
That seemed strangely absent from Goodman Thursday night. As I tried to soak in the spirit of fans and athletes that hung like a shadow over the court, the place seemed almost barren. Gone were the championship banners hung from rafters like layers of cherished pages in a favorite photo album. Gone were the heavy dark blue velvet curtains framing the stage with Bethel's iconic helm logo centered above. The banners were moved to the new gym, and the stage opening had been filled in with wall and glass into which you could view students running in place. Across the floor of the gym athletes were practicing, running laps. But it just didn't feel the same.We lingered the the lobby just prior to the start of the game and I pointed out to my kids the retired jerseys of fellow students and names of friends. The game was intense, and Caleb was on fire with 3 pointers. But, of course, it didn't feel like the old times in Goodman. As people walked into the gym I looked intently into their faces, trying to peal back 20 years of time to recognize someone from those bygone days. After the game I walked my kids around a little bit of the campus. Two thirds of the buildings there today were not there during my time, and with the exception of the library, even those that I remembered have little resemblance to the 1991 version. I recalled a few pranks that we played, pointed out the student union where I spent most of my time outside of class. And I recalled a number of friends, many I haven't seen in those 20 years. There is a certain risk of shock in going back, isn't there?