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Saying Goodbye To Shingleton

12 January 2018 Views From The Booth Sports

Greetings from the Booth!

And welcome to Spring, at least for a few days! We’ve gone from zero-degree temperatures to the lower 60s this week in the Shenandoah Valley, all in the span of one week.  Joggers and golfers have come out of the woodwork for a few glorious days around the area, as thoughts of Apple Blossom creep into our heads.  It will be short-lived, though, as we’ll be back into the 30s by MLK Day.

Once again, college football gave us a great treat for it’s National Championship game, and once again the Alabama Crimson Tide prevailed in a game for the ages, in a 26-23 overtime thriller against Georgia. It was sweet vindication for the Tide, who took some heat for even being in the final four.  It was also the 5th National title for ‘Bama in 9 seasons, as the houndstooth of Bear Bryant gives way to the straw hat of Nick Saban.

Now, it’s on to divisional weekend for the NFL, and to be honest, none of the 4 games this weekend generate the buzz and excitement of the CFP finale this past Monday night.  New England and Pittsburgh should dispose of Tennessee and Jacksonville, setting up a rematch from a few weeks ago in the AFC Title game. The NFC is a little more wide open, where I see Atlanta winning in Philadelphia, and in my upset pick, I think the Saints get the job done in Minnesota.

As the Shenandoah University Hornets get set to transition to the shiny-new WIlkins Athletic Center in a few weeks, I can’t help but feel a bit of sadness and nostalgia for the Newton B. Shingleton Gymnasium, the cozy little bandbox that has been the Hornet’s home since (it seems) the beginning of time.  As one who’s been associated with SU athletics since the late 80s, the memories of Shingleton Gym come flooding back.

I think fondly of those great teams under the late Dave Dutton, who brought a winning culture to Shenandoah, and had fun doing it (I could write a novel about the road trips!). His racehorse teams ran up and down the  floor as names like Cooper, Pritchett, and Baltimore lit up the Shingleton scoreboard and gave us a trip to the NCAA tournament.  When Dutton suddenly passed away, dry eyes were few and far between at his memorial service, which was held at Shingleton.

The names blur together over the years, but 2 are unforgettable: Phil Dixon and Al White, men among boys who propelled the Hornets into the NCAA tourney once again.  The home crowds rocked, as Dixon and White gave us an all-too-brief taste of D-I basketball. Their names will be forever cemented in the history of Shingleton Gym.

Of course, there were also the lean years of S-U basketball, and one of my most vivid Shingleton memories is not a pleasant one.  It was the night that Shingleton Gym went silent as a basketball official collapsed and died during a game.  The game eventually continued, but no one’s heart was in it, as players, coaches, and broadcasters simply went through the motions.

At it’s best, Shingleton Gym had character and personality, from the low-hanging rafters which all-but prevented game winning half-court shots,  to the small, but raucous crowds. In a few weeks,the last basket will  be made, and the horn will sound for the final time. And while it’s exciting to begin a new era in a new gym, it’s a little sad to close the book on an old one.

Thanks for the memories, Shingleton!

That’s it from the Booth! Until next time, GO HORNETS!