New gym a dream come true for Calera HS

By Harold Harmon Sports Writer

July 31, 2014

Calera’s basketball teams finally have a new gym.

It was long overdue, but now it’s here.

The old gym, named for former coach Joe ‘Bok’ Laughlin, is home to many memories over the years. The new gym will be home to many memories in the years to come.

Some of those memories are good, some not so much. It’s easy to recall the good times. There are games won on miracle shots as time expires. There was a state championship for the Bulldogs. The Lady Bulldogs are still climbing that mountain.

Too many of us forget about the players. Not every player can be a hero. Even the government can’t make that happen.

In 33-plus years with the Durant Daily Democrat, I had the pleasure, and sometimes pain, of covering no telling how many basketball games at Calera High School. Try standing on the baseline to shoot pictures and dodge players driving to the basketball. There’s a thrill per minute.

I have seen those late miracle shots. I have also seen late shots that just missed falling into the miracle category.

I have also taken pictures when someone, at times the high school principal, would run onto the floor at one end and mop up water from a leaky roof, hoping to be out of the way before the teams could run over him.

As fans, many of us tend to overlook the fact that the players work just as hard (or harder) in losing seasons than in winning seasons.

Anybody can dress out and hustle when a team is winning. It takes special players to dress out and hustle when a team is losing.

It’s harder to run the lines when players know the chance of winning the next game is not all that good. It’s fun to run the lines in the midst of a winning streak.

Okay, maybe it’s not fun, but at least it’s tolerable.

Great players have worn the Black and Gold. Average players have worn the Black and Gold. Below-average players have won the Black and Gold.

Great, average or below average, the key is effort. Some of the below-average players will work their guts out just to get a uniform. Fans can relate to that and appreciate it.

Crowd support has always been good at Calera. Unfortunately, it was better back in the day than it has been lately.

We have too dang much other stuff to do. Kids have cars and cars must be supported. Cars aren’t free, no matter what the government says.

Do I have to mention the electronics? TV? Games? The sneakers one must have at more than a dress suit used to cost?

We don’t have the weekends when kids would try to find a window open so they could sneak in a play on the hardwood floor.

We don’t have lots of things we used to have. Some of that is good, some not so good.

My memory is not sufficient to recall those days. Heck, my memory is not sufficient to recall this morning.

I did manage to find one of the old guys who played in the old gym and got a few tidbits.

Charles “Chuck” Downs, now the circulation manager at The Democrat, started playing in the old gym about 1952 or 1953 and the first thing he recalled was how slick the floor got when the weather turned bad or the humidity got high.

Downs said, “You know, Calera never did play football, but looking at old Chuck, you would have thought I got hammered on every play. I was always bruised up from all of the falls I took.

“But, you know, that old floor produced a great championship basketball team coached by the great BOK, who was one of the great coaches of his time. Yes, I will remember that old gym as long as I live. Lots of old memories there. Some of the players I played with were James Moss, Lawrence Moss, Louie Goza, Elmer Rogers, Buck Hart, Freddy Hamilton, Ross Davis and Mike Carter.”

I will visit the new Calera gym as soon as possible. You should, too. Maybe it will bring back some of those memories and maybe that’s as good as it’s ever going to be.

It’s sad to think generations of kids will never know the pleasure of wearing the uniform or just grabbing a hot dog and rooting for the ones who do wear the uniform.

Not too many years ago, fans wanting to get a seat at a basketball game knew to go early. That has not been the case lately in the county and that’s a shame. It’s beyond sad, but empty seats are on view even at homecoming games.

Calera was the last school in Bryan County to get a new gym. Calera has always had good teams. Maybe the new dawg house will bring the crowds back out.

One can always hope.

Harold Harmon can be reached at HHarmon@se.edu.