Outside the Huddle is profiling which 10 area basketball gyms it feels are the best around as we spend some time this off-season looking at unique aspects of these facilities.
Each facility is rated on four factors – game night atmosphere, design, amenities and team success, as well as testimonials from the home team, the opposition and Bounce himself.
NOTE: While success does play a factor in these rankings, it certainly isn’t the biggest factor. That seemed to be a sticking point in the football field countdown from our readers.
No. 3 Charger Fieldhouse
Location: Carroll High School
First season: 2010-2011
Named for: After mascot, the Chargers
Main image by Leverage Photography
SCORE BREAKDOWN (1 – lowest; 5 – highest)
Game night atmosphere: 4
Neon Nation ranks right up there with the top student sections in mortheast Indiana and that makes a huge difference on what it is like inside Charger Fieldhouse for big home games. As has been mentioned in other rankings, the environment certainly helps in the postseason and when Carroll is playing in those postseason games. But an average night in Charger Fieldhouse is still high energy because they have upper level cheerleading and a solid band.
The facility is helped by big games. When the likes of Homestead are in the house, there is always a bigger impact on that game from the stands.
As was pointed out to us by girls basketball coach Mark Redding, one of the coolest things about the Fieldhouse is that the team that helped with the design traveled around to different locations to pick out things they liked and tried to incorporate them into this facility when it was built 10 years ago. One of the best parts about that design is the spaciousness. Often you will see team benches/chairs either as the front row of bleachers or butted up against the bleachers, but this place has so much space. The bleachers are many feet back from the team bench area, which gives coaches and players adequate space from fans but is really nice all around.
You can’t usually define a gym as breathable, but that is exactly what you get in the Charger Fieldhouse; everything is so strongly separated. The upper level adds to that and gives Carroll the ability to choose what is open. If it is just the sides, they can rope off the upper baseline area or they can leave it open and those kids can run around and use their endless energy.
The scoreboard in the center of the gym is a fantastic touch for any school, but Carroll’s is the best. Most schools have moved to extended scoreboards that can keep track of player points and fouls, but for Carroll to have that on the center scoreboard is one of the best elements in any gym in the area. Any gym that recognizes past championship teams is good too and Carroll does that with a really great and vibrant upper-level graphic.
Carroll has some of the best concessions in the area and a really nice concession stand to serve them up. It helps that, in our top 10, this is the newest facility so they have more state-of-the-art examples all around. In the gym, the four corners with nice, specific media seating is tremendous. Much like No. 4 Huntington North, the open space is welcome for media members. When Carroll is able to host postseason play and the advancement of media and teams having video needs, these specific spaces are perfect.
Team success: 4
Well you can’t hate much on team success when the boys team is the reigning SAC Holiday Tournament champions and the girls team are reigning sectional champions. The boys have won eight sectional titles but just two since this facility was added, while the girls have won four straight sectional titles and 10 overall in their history.
Carroll isn’t a program as storied in basketball as some others in the area with the oldest sectional title for either side coming with 1984’s boys crown. They have four combined regional titles. But if you look at the time since Charger Fieldhouse has become their home court, Carroll has been incredibly tough to beat at home and whether a champion or not in any given season, the Chargers are always a contender in any game or any championship race.
Carroll boys basketball coach Marty Beasley: “As a participator in the game, the open space around the bench eliminates people walking in front of bench and fans are not directly behind bench bothering the athletes. The band, dance team, cheerleaders and cheer blocks give the Fieldhouse a lot of energy.”
Carroll girls basketball coach Mark Redding: “The way it is set up, you have the four corners for press and radio can be. As a coach, it is a beautiful set up for practices. One of the unique parts of it was how they went to other schools as coaches and picked out what they liked and created their own version to make this a unique facility. Some places, the chairs are out there and if you get out of your chair, you are on the court because there is not much space between the bleachers and the court but at Carroll, you have plenty of space. They did a nice job of just thinking things through, making this facility…
…what Neon Nation does too, it brings the energy into the facility and that energy spreads to the players. The thing is, sometimes in those great matchups that you might have, you need that energy and particularly players so it motivates them to play that match harder.”
Snider boys basketball coach Jeremy Rauch: “Pristine. Combination of size and style. Locker rooms are particularly nice and leave ample room for celebration.”
I love Carroll because of the freedom to move around as much as anything. They built this facility with plenty of space in mind and I don’t know how often that is actually taken into enough consideration but it clearly was here. The glass partition on the upper level is nice because it doesn’t break up the gym with a solid wall, instead it lets the place be more free flowing. As Coach Redding pointed out to me, part of this plan comes from outside of basketball, where it was specifically made so four wrestling mats could fit on the floor at once for sectional and regional matches. While I focus on the basketball, this dynamic certainly helps the Fieldhouse overall.
Coming Wednesday: No. 2