Archive for Friday, February 10, 2006

School gym sees final hurrah

Central court retired after 80 years

February 10, 2006


The gymnasium at Central Junior High School is a relic straight out of the movie "Hoosiers" - the court sits 15 feet below the elevated bleachers, where fans gather to cheer adolescent athletes.

"It's a matchbox. It's not regulation-size," said Gary E. Hall, who coaches ninth-grade basketball at Central. "The lines are so confusing for referees. That's an experience in itself."

On Thursday, the final game was played at Coach Nanny Duver Gym, where athletes from Central - and, before it, Liberty Memorial High School - strutted their stuff for 80 years.

"This is a historical event," Hall said before the game. "How many times do we get a chance to close a gym?"

The old-fashioned gymnasium had its peculiarities - awnings above the sidelines and floor markings to accommodate a court that, these days, is shorter than basketball standard regulations allow.

"It's the only place where we can pull the ball over our head and lose possession of the ball," Hall said.

But Duver Gym's architectural oddities created some advantages for the home team.

"It makes it way louder," ninth-grader Chuck Hunter said.

"Loved it; loved it," ninth-grader Denzell Payne said of playing in the old place.

Hunter and Payne approached the school's principal, Frank Harwood, and asked for special recognition of the gym for the final game. An announcement before the eighth- and ninth-grade games Thursday made fans aware of the gym's history.

Construction is set to begin in March to transform the old gym into a space for band and music classes. A new gym will be built on the north side of the school. It also will have Duver's name, Harwood said.

The school at 1400 Mass. opened in the 1920s as Liberty Memorial High School. After Lawrence High School opened in 1954, the building served as Lawrence's only junior high school until West Junior High School opened in 1960.

The gym was named in 1982 for Wilbur G. "Nanny" Duver, a well-known physical education teacher and football coach at Central and LHS. He coached for more than 30 years until he retired in 1981. Duver died in 1988 at 72.

"He was a strong disciplinarian, but he was really good when it came to teaching kids the difference between right and wrong and how to take care of business," said Hank Booth, a Lawrence native and general manager at KLZR-FM and KLWN-AM.

"He was really an icon," Hall said.

- Staff writer Dave Ranney contributed to this report.


mcoan 12 years, 2 months ago

Good riddance! I only remember the suffering I and 1000's of other kids experienced there. I hated it being named for Duver. He probably ruined more children's self-esteem than all the other bad Central teachers combined. His antics would not be permitted today; he would have been fired long ago.

rtwngr 12 years, 2 months ago

Does everybody remember coming out of the locker room before gym class and having to do do the ladder? Coach Duver was a tough SOB.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

I never had Duver as a coach, but he sounds similar to the ones I did have. Almost without exception, all the PE coaches I had were real sadists. They made PE class completely miserable, and probably turned off most of their classes to physical exercise for the rest of their lives.

Fortunately, after I got out of high school and away from these jerks, I found the benefits of physical exercise on my own, and I can still hold my own with people 20-30 years younger than myself. But most other people my age (I'm 50) learned the lessons these guys were teaching all too well, and don't get much more exercise than what a teevee remote or a cruise control button provide.

Janet Lowther 12 years, 2 months ago

Sometimes I think that physical education teachers should not be allowed to be coaches: It is a conflict of interest.

Physical education should be geared to the klutzes and fat kids who need the help, not the athlete.

I doubt if Mr. Duver could have been any worse than his counterpart at West in the late '60s (who's name I remember but will not mention) who was a horrifying sadist. (At least for the klutzes.)

LongGoneFromLarryville 12 years, 2 months ago

The ladder! And don't skip a rung or you'll get ratted out? Don't forget the pipe right after that. Is that grease in your hair? Cal in the corner for you, lad.

What about the pegboards? Biggest achievement of my jr. high career was up, across, down, up, across, down and up again before I fell off!

Class attention! Dress right, dress Open ranks, double arms length Half left face, two Jumping jacks, 20 count, ready, go Pushups, down 1, 2 Down 1.... down 5. Ready, up Arm circles... arms up... 1, 2 Pushups, down 1, 2 Down 1.... down 5. Ready, up 15 count hold, down 1, 2 Up... 1...2... 15, down Up 1, 2 Pushups, down 1, 2 Down 1.... down 5. Ready, up 20 count hold, down 1, 2 Up... 1...2... 20, down Up 1, 2 Pushups, down 1, 2 Down 1.... down 5. Ready, up Leg lifts, down 1, 2 Up 1, 2,.... 20 push ups

The only C+ of my academic career was 7th grade gym.

Have to admit to a grudging respect by the time I finished there, though. The dude did have a sense of humor, but he only divulged to the inner circle.

SteelHorseRider 12 years, 2 months ago

LongGoneFromLarryville - The description you give above sounds like it is right out of a military physical fitness manual!

Duver must've been part of the WWII era and one of America's Greatest Generation. He would've been 25 or so at the beginning of the war, which woud've made him older than the average, but surely he must've served.

All of the comments above made me laugh!


myunitedstatesofWHATEVA 12 years, 2 months ago

ohh boy that gym

im still in junior high (resident of South Junior High) and boy does gym suck.. and it DOES get loud.. mostly from the other team.. either central has no school spirit or too embarassed of their crap excuse for a gym

either way they need a new one badly

rtwngr 12 years, 2 months ago

All of you whiners and complainers that had Coach Duver for a gym teacher:

I was not in his inner circle of football players but I did learn one thing. Mental toughness. I survived bootcamp telling myself that it was no worse than Duver's gym class. I remember the "poor Johnnys" in gym class. You were supposed to take your gym clothes home weekly for laundering. You didn't and suffered the consequences. You were to shower WITH SOAP after gym class. You didn't and you suffered the consequences. You were to learn the order of calisthentics and lead a class in them. You didn't and you suffered the consequences. Too bad for you. I respected the old bastard. A few more like him today and we might not have to have an "in school suspension" room.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Nothing like a little pre-emptive sadism, eh, rtwngr?

rtwngr 12 years, 2 months ago

Nothing got the attention of a male student faster than the possibility of facing Coach Duver, Wedd, or Edmondson for a little extra PT because he couldn't keep his tongue in check in class. In today's world you don't dare hurt the self esteem of some poor child lest they grow up mentally scarred. Boo hoo. Push ups, sit ups, and arm circles until it hurts, are very fine motivational tools.

rtwngr 12 years, 2 months ago

I saw where you tried to join in this discussion, bozo, but you never had him for a gym teacher. I did. I didn't like him one bit. I hated every moment in his class. Just the same, everything I said in my posts is true. I firmly believe if we could do some of the things today, that he did then, we could cut our disciplinary problems exponentially.

rtwngr 12 years, 2 months ago

Another thing, bozo, why is it sadism to be a strict disciplinarian? All you had to do in his classes was follow instruction and give 100% effort. That's it. But no. There were guys that thought they could skirt by and cheat the system. When they did, yes, he would stomp on their neck and make an example of them. You call it sadism I call it discipline. When you were done with his class at the end of 7th grade you had nice looking, well sculpted arms.

LongGoneFromLarryville 12 years, 2 months ago

Sculpted arms - and damn, weren't we cool in our white shorts, tank tops and shoes that never hit real dirt!

One more thing... to this day I still tell my kids to "riverside" when I want them to turn around. So, Nanny lives.

mcoan 12 years, 2 months ago

If I knew where he was buried, I'd spit on his grave. Nuf said.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

discipline |&&char114&& disÉplin| noun 1 the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience : a lack of proper parental and school discipline. ¢ the controlled behavior resulting from such training : he was able to maintain discipline among his men. ¢ activity or experience that provides mental or physical training : the tariqa offered spiritual discipline | Kung fu is a discipline open to old and young. ¢ a system of rules of conduct : he doesn't have to submit to normal disciplines. 2 a branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education : sociology is a fairly new discipline.

sadism |&&char114&& sÄ&&char114&&dizÉm| noun the tendency to derive pleasure, esp. sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others. ¢ (in general use) deliberate cruelty.

There is an obvious potential for crossing the line between sadism and discipline. Unfortunately, this is all too common an occurence, especially among many so-called conservatives who see no value in independent thought or initiative, and who are unquestioning of authority figures, especially those who favor violence and hierarchical, elitist societies.

hotmama1 12 years, 2 months ago

"Coach Duver was a tough SOB." I attended Central from 99' to 01'. So I dont know this SOB everyone talks of I remember going to games and really just getting into the spirit. (win-or-lose) I remember 9th grade when Central won the Warhawk Championship at West. The final score was 56-54, with the winning shot in the last second - Thank You Dain Dillingham. -I remember the teacher vs. student games in the Duver gym. I remember Mr.Wiles preparing us for the Fun Run. I remember Ms. Hamilton working our butts off. (Thank You). I also remember signing each others yearbooks on the last day of school, and eather saying goodbye forever or until next year. So Duver to me is just a name on a gym that i had alot of good times in. Thank you:Ms.loomis, Mr.Lund, Mr.Wiles, Ms.Hamilton, and every other teacher im forgetting.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

"Oh, Jesus."

I'm not Jesus. But you can genuflect if it makes you feel good.

"Now gym class calisthenics have particular political foundations and motivations. And the sad part is you have no clue how pathetic that thought process is."

Then why is that all you "John Wayne," "Let's blow somethin' up" conservatives cheer the sadists pretending to be teachers.

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