Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 14, 2013

COMMENTARY: This take some getting used to

My Take....By Jay Neal

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE —

Jacksonville High School played its first game in the JISD Gymnasium (formally known as Lon Morris College's Smith Events Center) on Tuesday night when the Fight'n Maiden basketball team entertained Diboll.

Hats off to the JISD Board of Trustees, members of the administration and everyone who worked so hard in providing Jacksonville High School with a much-needed new competition gym that everyone can be proud of.

If you haven't had a chance to check it out — the facility looks great, by the way — the Maidens and the Indians will both be in action at the arena on Nov. 22 (5:30 and 7:30 p.m.).

So many people, from all walks off life, have approach me in the last couple of days and all they want to talk about it seems is the arena.

The gist of the conversations have all been the same...it just doesn't feel right to be in there watching non-Lon Morris College basketball games.

I'll have to admit, even though I only covered LMC hoops in the arena for four years, I feel the exact same way.

Gone are the vibrant green colors; now replaced by Jacksonville blue, the familiar faces of the former LMC coaches, the avid Bearcat fans, the LMC pep band and and the young men and women that proudly wore the green and white uniforms and provided LMC fans with so many proud moments.

To go into that building with basketball being played and Dale Dotson not being there yelling at an official, or entertaining a Bearcat loyalist with a story, is like walking into a McDonald's restaurant and not seeing any mention of the infamous Ronald McDonald — it just feels incredibly strange.

A lady told me that see saw pictures of Tuesday's game on Facebook and that it made her sick.

I'm sure her feeling has nothing to do with JISD team's playing in there; rather that LMC is no longer an active part of the facility.

The consensus opinion says things will get better with time; I hope so. I believe it will.

Personally, I'm thankful that JISD was able to acquire the building, and if the Bearcats and the Lady Bearcats cats can no longer be the star attractions, then the Fight'n Indians and the Fight'n Maidens are the next logical choice to take center stage there.

How horrible it would be if basketball were not still being played between those four walls, and that could have easily happened had it not been for JISD submitting the winning bid on the complex.

Sadly, Bearcat and Lady Bearcat basketball, as well as the Vivian and Bob Smith Events Center are gone, but they are not forgotten.

All the blue paint in the world can't cover up the LMC athletic memories that were conceived by so many of the school's teams and coaches in past decades.