First of two parts.
From November to February, the North Dallas basketball teams become road warriors.
They may play one or two games in the boys gym, but for the most part, all of their games are on the road.
North Dallas, a Class 5A school with 1,200 students, doesn’t have a competition-size gym like other DISD schools. (Even Class 3A Roosevelt has a competition gym.) The boys gym doesn’t have bleachers, and has about 6 feet of space on the sidelines and 3 feet along the baseline. The upstairs girls gym is just for practice.
ND played its “home” games about 5 miles away at Cobb Field House at Fair Park. There are no signs or banners that give any indication that that is the Bulldogs’ home gym.
It’s definitely not like going to Bryan Adams or Carrollton Creekview, where you can expect the parents and students to show their support for their home team. For North Dallas, the home crowd at Cobb is “slim to none” with mostly parents and a few students.
ND girls basketball coach Erik Grayson said he considered Cobb Field House as “a neutral site.”
“We’re the only team that uses Cobb as our home gym and we still have to travel,” said Grayson, the fourth ND girls coach in the last four years.
Other girls teams who played at home had time to warm up and practice well before the 6 or 7:30 p.m. start. ND did not have that luxury at Cobb.
“It is definitely a disadvantage,” ND athletic coodinator Brian Barnett said. “A home-court or home-field advantage is beneficial in any sport. It takes more than 10 to 12 games a season in a gym to become comfortable and consider it your home court. Being able to play games on campus also improves attendance and gets your student body more involved in the athletic program, which is an advantage.
“Most importantly, the mental edge youngsters can have over their opponent from playing in ‘our gym’ is worth a lot in the course of a season.”
In District 11-5A, North Dallas, Woodrow Wilson and Hillcrest were the only boys teams that didn’t play district games in its home gym, but Woodrow and Hillcrest did host non-district games. In girls play, ND was the only team that didn’t host any District 11-5A games at its gym.
A former ND coach said North Dallas hasn’t hosted any district games in years.
This season, the North Dallas’ boys schedule included six home games to open the season. After the first two home games, the rest were moved to Cobb. Using lunchroom benches on one sideline, the gym was packed as more than 100 people surrounded the court.
The girls team only played one home game this season in the boys gym.
Recently, South Oak Cliff students protested the school building and facilities. The DISD said it will give $25 million for improvements at SOC, including a new competition-size gym. SOC hosted district games at its gym this season.
So what is the possibility of North Dallas getting a competition gym?
“I do not see that in the near future nor have I heard of it being a possibility,” Barnett said. “As you are aware, the voters just passed a bond for DISD. In that bond, there are no plans for new construction on our campus.”
Barnett said he has some ideas on how a new gym could be built, but it won’t be easy to get done.
“I think there are a lot of variables involved in adding structures to our building,” Barnett said. “First, the age of the building makes it difficult to add on to structurally, primarily due to the HVAC/plumbing, systems etc. I do not know this to be a fact, just speculation. Second, we are limited on space when we look at expanding our building. Third, I have been told the Landmark Commission (I think that is what they are called) makes these types of changes and renovations very difficult and is quite a lengthy process. Again, a lot of this is speculation and opinion, but definitely makes sense.”
Tomorrow: Can’t fight a losing tradition without a gym