Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, that was what it was called - there was a painted wall sign (like the "OHS" along the "Home" side of the stands) that said "Thunderdome". Oxford has always had a habit of having powerhouse teams in the OHS Gym, and wins were always hard to come by for the opposing team (just ask the 18-3 West Point team that came there Tuesday).
Don Whitten of the Oxford Eagle - who was the Sports Editor prior to taking the Head Editor position - wrote about his memories of the OHS Gym yesterday in the Eagle which will far exceed any of my memories. There are actually several people that have a lot longer memories than anything I could produce of the OHS Gym. I've only been consistently been going to games since 2002 - which is now going on a dozen years - although I have known OHS Basketball a lot longer than that having gone to the Charger Basketball Camp every single year (until this past year) since the end of my 2nd Grade year at the age of 7. Dr. Sarah Lacy, Coach Drew Tyler - who played at OHS as a player before becoming the Head Coach - and the rest of his family old and young, Eddie Earl Christian, but just to show my memories that is all I have been able to produce that has been coming to OHS Basketball games longer than I have - not just at home, but on the road.
My Senior Year (2006-07 season), I jump-started having a PA Announcer at Basketball games. I did what was then called a "Capstone" Project that back then every OHS Senior had to do in order to graduate (I believe that is no longer a requirement or that the project exists anymore). Before then, there usually wasn't a PA Announcer doing Basketball games except for the big games (i.e. Oxford/Lafayette or a big game in the playoffs). The project was to pick a hobby or a job that you are not used to doing that takes an extended amount of time and then create a presentation on that hobby or job. Of course that was PA Announcing for me - and for that year did not get paid to do it as it was a school project. Announcing in-front of crowds has helped me get to where I am today on Twitter - or I may not have gotten the nerve or the idea to make up the Twitter account a few years ago.
I continued to do it until I gradually gave the mic to Jack Schultz midway into my 4th year doing it. Schultz continued to do so until a year after he graduated and now Middle School Teacher and Assistant OHS Baseball Coach Daniel Parrish now currently does the announcing for Basketball. Schultz still comes to the games mainly because his younger sister Sophomore PG Emma Schultz plays for the OHS Lady Charger Basketball team.
My memories are few and far in-between, but I have fond memories of the OHS Gym. John Gunn who went on to play for Ole Miss went to Oxford and played his games in that gym. Current Ole Miss HC Andy Kennedy also played a game for the Louisville Wildcats back in the day in the OHS Gym. Among my favorite games are two Girls Oxford & Lafayette games in back-to-back years in 2006-07 and the 2007-08 years - ironically Center Hill and Lanier Girls Basketball two years ago when Lanier's long win-streak and back-to-back State Title Chase came to a screeching halt was another good game that I got to witness in the OHS Gym. The same year Oxford Girls Basketball became the only Oxford Basketball team in either gender to ever finish an entire season undefeated. The Boys game that sticks out is what I like to call the "sick" game where we had four starters out because they were sick - to which I don't believe they were - and forced OT on three made free throws with the clock at all zeroes and then hitting a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beating layup over three defenders to beat Grenada that year.
But my memories don't just include Basketball games I've watched - during Gym class my Junior year, I hit a wiffle ball that made it to the smaller scoreboard for a home run during a game of wiffleball that went through the holes in the ceiling without touching the support beams. All the pep-rallies and such while I was at OHS still stick in my mind - no matter how dull or exciting it was.
While memories have been made in that gym, a new gym has been long overdue. A lot of things are outdated (like the stands being wooden or the sound-system sounding pretty crappy all the time). You can only fit 800 people in that gym comfortably. The new gym will have seating close to 1500 people at least, a new sound-system (that will probably break two games into the Volleyball season), and better stands.
I ask to all reading this to come on out one last time a pack the Gym for Oxford's last Varsity Basketball contest (barring something happening that would make Oxford play in that Gym again) before they move to the new Gym in November. It will be Senior Night, but these last two games will mean a lot more than the Senior's last time they will play at home - it will be the last time anyone will watch, coach, scorekeep, or play a high school basketball game inside that gym. While the Gym won't be torn down, the high school team won't come back to it ever again.
One last game in the old Gym, the Thunderdome, or whatever you want to call it. I just have a hunch two Oxford wins will happen tonight inside the Thunderdome.