BOONE: History of Waynetown Basketball: The Gymnasium
October 1, 2019
Waynetown High School must have started playing basketball around the turn of the century, but the first picture we have found so far is a picture of the 1909 team. In that year, Waynetown played baseball, basketball and football. The 1909 yearbook, The Aceria, referred to the basketball team as “The Old Gold and Black,” and called the baseball team the Waynetown Tigers.
Waynetown students went to school in various buildings during the early years, but the first building that had a gym floor in it was built in 1913. The building was laid out so that the classrooms were on three levels. The elementary school was on the first level, and the high school was on the second level, with the gym and home economics area in the lower level with part of it being underground. The gym was in the lower level on the south side of the building. The gym was laid out with the baskets running north and south and seating on the east and west sides of the floor. The adults usually sat on the west side of the gym and the students sat on the east. Both Don Proctor and Jim Capehart remember that there were only three or four rows of bleachers. There was also a balcony which provided seating for spectators. The balcony ran along the east side, across the north and along the west side. There was no balcony on the south side. There were several entrances to the gym. Paying customers came through the main doors of the school, turned left and went down some steps to two large doors on the north end of the gym. Another entrance was through four large doors on each side of Miss Liberty.
There were wrestling mats hanging on the wall behind the south basket to give the players some protection, but the two large doors were always open on the north end and players who were in danger of hitting the wall on that end simply ran through one of the open doors.
Looking at the picture of the Waynetown — Covington game, you notice that the center circle comes very close to the free throw circle. Since the free throw line has always been 15 feet from the basket, it is easy to see that there is only about four feet between the top of the free throw circle and the 10 second line. Don Proctor said that he thought the floor was about half the size of a regulation floor. Since a regulation floor is 84 feet long and 50 feet wide, a conservative estimate would place the old Waynetown gym floor at about 45 to 50 feet long and about 30 to 40 feet wide.
The gymnasium also served as the cafeteria with the meals being prepared in the Home-Ec room which was on the same level as the gym and just outside the doors on the north end. The students would then take their lunches to the bleachers and eat in the bleachers.
Above the gym was an auditorium which seated about 200 and an elevated stage where performances were held. The auditorium was also used for various town meetings as well as the school activities.
Don Proctor is one of the last surviving members of the Ralph Capehart coached teams that ran off 51 straight regular season wins and won two county tourneys, two sectionals and a regional. Don remembers playing in the old gym.
He said, “I played in that gym all of my career; it was small with balconies on both sides and the front end. The south end of the floor was right up against the south wall; you could hardly step out of bounds to throw the ball in. We had wrestling mats tied to the walls at both ends to cushion you if and when you ran into the wall, which was more frequently than you would think. It was about half the size of a playing floor today.” Don also recalled that the gym was separate from the school building itself and sat a little southeast of the main building. (I think he may have confused the 1954 gym with the old gym. The 1954 gym is southeast of the school, but the old gym was attached to the south side of the building.)
Bill Boone is a local sports historian who contributes to the Journal Review.