Tuesday, February 23, 2016

WIlliston High School Coyotes To Play Last Game In Williston's Phil Jackson Field House -- February 23, 2016

I wear my emotions on my sleeves, as they say, and I actually felt a twinge of sadness reading this article from The Williston Herald:
With the new Williston High School opening in the fall, and with it, a new Williston High School gymnasium, time is running out on the Phil Jackson Field House as a home for Coyote sporting events.
And, in fact, tonight’s home basketball doubleheader with Dickinson will mark the last time the venerable facility plays host to WHS varsity athletics.
To commemorate the event, there will be a special ceremony between the end of the girls game, which starts at 5:45 and the start of the boys game at around 7:15.
The gym at the new high school is still under construction, and when it opens it won’t be named after Jackson, a star at WHS in the 60s, who went on to play at the University of North Dakota and then with the New York Knicks. Jackson is probably best known for his NBA coaching career, winning 10 championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The old WHS fieldhouse was practically my second home while in high school. I probably spent as many hours in that part of the facility as I did in the high school itself: football manager, wrestler, Lettermen's Club, the sole student in charge of the athletic laundry room two of the years I was in high school; pep band in the fieldhouse; awards ceremonies.

One of my favorite memories of high school was walking home at night, after wrestling practice or working in the laundry, well after dark, in the middle of winter, when it was 20 degrees below zero (or colder); no wind; quiet; I could hear the snow crunching under my feet; about a 20-minute walk home; if the sky was clear I would look at the stars and wonder; sometimes I would see the "northern lights"; alone in my thoughts; incredibly peaceful; I do not recall every worrying about homework on those nights; I don't recall worrying or thinking much about anything. Perhaps it was too cold.

I assume the fieldhouse is not going away. It will still be part of the huge facility which will now be the middle school and, I think, an elementary school will be co-located there. I could be wrong. But the old facility will still be around. Williston probably has more square footage of fieldhouses-recreation centers-fitness centers-swimming pools/resident than any other city in the world. During this slowdown in activity in the Bakken, perhaps someone can put together a package to document this and sent it to the folks at Guinness World Records for validation. Off the top of my head: 
  • the new $70 million Williston Area Recreation Center
  • the old WHS fieldhouse (from the story above)
  • the new WHS fieldhouse
  • the Raymond Family Community Center (hockey, among other activities, including handball, I believe)
  • the fitness center on north Main (I think it's still there)
  • the EJ Hagan Aquatic Center 
  • outdoor swimming pool (I think it's still there)
  • multiple elementary school gymnasiums
  • the break room in the back of Manger Insurance, Inc

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