The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Nothing beats events in the Alumni Gym

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James McCormac
The Alumni Gym has hosted much of Mt. Carmel’s legendary history.

What’s your favorite space in Mount Carmel? For many MC alumni, faculty, and students, the answer is the Alumni Gym.

The older of MC’s two gyms was built along with the original school building back in 1924, making it a century old this year. It has seen a lot of different students dribble, spike, or wrestle over this time, and they have all made their impact on it in some way.

The track on the upstairs is so well-worn that if you look closely the footprints of previous students are engraved on the wood, which give it a kind of charm that appeals to students at MC. The gym’s Ring of Honor features the names of great individual wrestlers and teams along with the championships that they have won.

The dual wrestling matches are always held in the Alumni Gym and they are the most exciting ones for spectators. But the most popular event that takes place there every year is Fight Night. The gym is packed for the whole time, and it is a thrilling experience for participants and audience.

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When I fought in Fight Night in 2023 it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The crowded gym and bright lights created an awesome atmosphere. As a participant I can confidently say that it just would not be the same if it wasn’t for the Alumni Gym.

A bout starts at Fight Night in the Alumni Gym on Saturday, April 30, 2022. (Luke Boersma)

“There has been a lot going on in there for a long time,” said vice principal Mr. Bill Nolan ’87. “One year during covid they did Fight Night in the Cacciatori Gym, and it just kind of lost its intimacy.”

Throughout the years the Alumni Gym has done more than just host sporting events, even acting as the site for a movie and a Micheal Jordan ad.

“It’s been used for everything,” said Mr. Nolan. “In 1994 they filmed part of a movie called Blue Chips about basketball there. They pumped in cold air so it would be like the winter, and they painted everything. The basketball star Penny Hardaway actually played a game there. In the movie there were a bunch of college basketball stars and coaches as extras. If you watch Blue Chips the movie there was a scene where you’re gonna notice it’s Mount Carmel, if you pause it and look at the scorers table and you see someone in a green shirt that would be me. A young handsome Bill Nolan.”

Back in the day before they had all of the newer sports facilities many current MC students take for granted, everything had to be done in the Alumni Gym. From basketball practice to weightlifting to intramurals, everything was jam packed into that one space. Somehow they made it work, with multiple sports teams winning championships that are now displayed in banners along the rafters in the gym.

“When I was a student here,” said English teacher Mr. Tim Baffoe ’00, “the preliminary rounds for Fight Night were during lunch on school days. Students would scarf their lunches in the Student Center as quickly as possible and race to the Alumni Gym to see some boxing matches that were sometimes better than the Fight Night matches.”

All this history can be felt by anyone the minute they step inside the gym. You just get the feeling that greatness has and will continue to happen here.

“All the banners and the Ring of Honor just give you these feelings, you know?” said Declan Deering. “When people are here and screaming, it’s hard to describe how it makes you feel. It’s just gritty.”

The size of the Alumni Gym plays a big part in creating its famous atmosphere. With the space being relatively small, having everyone cramped together makes it seem packed no matter what.

“It’s a smaller area which makes it easier to fill,” said junior Ryan Clark. “It feels almost thicker and louder. Nothing beats doing things here. I definitely see the value in having a space like this. It’s something unique that most other schools don’t have.”

One of the biggest problems that Caravan sports have had this year, despite some excellent teams, is packing the stands for sports events. If more games were moved back into the Alumni Gym, we might see more alumni and students attending home games. More people do tend to show up to events in the Alumni Gym–wrestling matches and throwback basketball games always have bigger turnouts when done there.

While the Alumni Gym does have so many positive traits and is dearly loved by many students, it also has its problems. However, it is still a vital part of this school and its history.

“It’s not perfect,” said Mr. Nolan. “It leaks, the stands are uncomfortable to sit in, the track is a hundred years old, and it’s like 23 times around it for a mile, but it has a very fond spot in my memory, and I love it. As long as I’m around Mount Carmel we will continue to use it and do activities there.”

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About the Contributor
James McCormac, Staff Writer
James McCormac is a junior at Mount Carmel. He lives in Bridgeport and attended Old Saint Mary's Grammar School. James is a member of the Varsity football team, the chess team, boxing, and The Merchant. Outside of school James enjoys doing volunteer work. His hobbies are reading and lifting.