By Tony Hooker
For years, athletes here in the river city have struggled to find places to practice. Many is the time when the devilettes and their junior high counterparts have found themselves practicing in the study hall or cafeteria, which is ok, but not ideal. You see, the members of each squad use certain marks to align their sets. Their routines normally cover the entire court, as well. Not possible, as you can imagine, when you’re dodging desks and cafeteria tables.
The issue isn’t unique to the dancers, either. There are many mornings that the junior high basketball quintets are forced to hold their practices at 6 a.m. before school. Having raised four kids, I shudder at the memory of wrangling them to these early morning death matches.
Thankfully, those days are set to be in the rearview mirror, as the school has begun work on a new gymnasium and class space. The little gym is host to millions of childhood memories, but unfortunately demands for space and court time
Likewise, the river city was recently awarded a $2.1 million grant to build a new community center. Initial drawings show not only a gymnasium with basketball courts, but also an elevated walking track and a full concession area, just to name a few of the goodies that will be included. This facility will be unique to our area and will serve the needs not only of Villa Grovians, but of the entire region for decades to come.
To my way of thinking, anything that brings visitors to our little town is a good thing. Young families are the lifeblood of any community, as I’ve written before, and its amenities like new school and community facilities that serve to attract them. Likewise, those who like to get their steps in will be able to do so regardless of the weather conditions.
For us old timers, the community building at the corner of Main and Harrison was the heart of our town. Generations of us played basketball, both organized and pickup games, within her hallowed walls. The scouts used the facility constantly. Halloween saw the venerable building hosting the fire department’s famous haunted basement. Summer recreation had thriving youth programs and adult volleyball leagues. For years, VGHS graduates made the annual trek back to town for Alumni weekend, which always culminated in the dance at the community building. How important and influential were those days? I know for that one certain ink stained wretch, Alumni night was the site of his first dance with his spouse. How Mrs. HLS has put up with me for almost thirty years is one of life’s great mysteries.
A life time of memories crashed down when the wrecking ball struck the old building. My abiding wish for years has been to see facilities in place where future generations can begin to build memories, and as these new construction projects begin to take shape, it certainly appears that my wishes might be granted.