Bye bye, Bartlett

Bartlett Gym hosts its last varsity game nearly four decades after hosting its first

The stands were packed, but largely devoid of students, during Bartlett Gym’s last varsity game on Saturday night when the Gaels hosted the Ryerson Rams.
The stands were packed, but largely devoid of students, during Bartlett Gym’s last varsity game on Saturday night when the Gaels hosted the Ryerson Rams.

As Diana Toelly, Arts ’72, answered a trivia question during a stop in play at Saturday’s women’s basketball game against the Ryerson Rams for the prize of a grey PEC t-shirt, she reminisced about the place she played basketball almost 40 years ago, when Bartlett Gym was just opening up.

“It’s nostalgic to come back and look around, I’d love to get out there and play,” the former guard said. “We didn’t wear those baggy uniforms, they were more pleasant to look at.”

Bartlett Gym hosted its last varsity games last weekend, as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams won their matchups with the Ryerson Rams.

Women’s basketball coach Dave Wilson, who gave a speech commemorating his time at Bartlett at the end of the women’s win, said the continued support of fans would make the transition away from the traditional home of the Gaels more bearable. Wilson both played and spent his entire 28-year coaching career at Queen’s.

“I think the biggest memories are with people. So, as long as we can convince the people to come over and convince the people to sit in a little more comfortable stands, a little closer to the court, a little more intimate feeling, a little bit brighter, then I don’t think that will change a whole lot, I think it will still be about the people that come and support the team.”

Guard Dan Bannister said sadness for the move away from Bartlett would be felt more by the older generation than the current crop of students.

“I’ve only been here three years. It’s special, but it’s really more for the older people and the fans who come here for 20, 30 years,” he said. “It’s going to be nice going into a new building. When you get a new pair of shoes, that’s always nice, so I’m assuming a new building is going to be great. I hope the fans will really show their support.”

The stands featured mostly older fans, alumni, Queen’s Athletics representatives, families of the players and younger Kingston residents who play for local clubs in attendance. There was a distinct lack of students in the stands on Saturday.

Sam Duncan, ArtSci ’10, was in the stands for Saturday’s games. He said the low student turnout could be down to the late start of term this semester. Classes started Monday.

“It was probably due to the fact that not everyone was back from vacation,” he said. “It was a little disappointing. Queen’s has won a few in a row now, they’re starting to play well, it’s unfortunate more people didn’t come out.”

Duncan said the connection Kingston residents have with the basketball program made it more suitable to have the closing of Bartlett more geared towards them.

“It was cool the way it was. I go to quite a few games and it seems as though there’s more consistency in the people from the community coming to the games than there is with students, so there’s more of a tie for people from the community with the team than there is with students.”

As basketball’s opening game at the new complex looms nearer, on Jan. 29, Duncan said the allure of a new facility should lead to an increase in student attendance.

“I sure hope they start going,” he said. “People seem to be pretty excited with the new facility and I think we’ll see an increase in students coming out.”

Former Queen’s history professor Geoff Smith, who was sitting with his wife and grandson in the stands when he wasn’t trying to lead the crowd’s cheers during the game, said his history with the gym began with its construction in 1971.

“I played for the intermediates, they thought I was a student when I was an assistant professor,” he said. “I coached from 1974-1984, then worked for recruiting. Now I’m a leather-lunged rooter.”

Smith said the combination of the uncomfortable seats and athletics becoming more prevalent on campus made the move to a new gym necessary.

“The seats in here are the most painful seats—it hurts to sit here if you’re over 25,” he said. “If you’re going to be big-time, as Queen’s seems to want to go, you get better players and you need better facilities.”

With the move to the Athletics and Recreation Centre’s new ‘Main Gym,’ Smith could only conjure up one thought, hurrying with his words as the halftime break was ending and the action was about to start again.

“It’s sad. There are memories in here. The good thing is they’ll never be forgotten—the good, the bad, the ugly and the miraculous.”

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