Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Tiny gym leaves team always the visitors

[IMAGE] Sam Moore, an eighth-grader at the Bloom middle school, in the gym, which is half regulation size.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
Samuel Moore has never played a basketball game on his home court.

The 14-year-old from the West End is a star guard for his team at Lafayette Bloom Back on Track Accelerated Middle School. The team uses the gymnasium at Hays/Porter/Washburn Elementary, also in the West End, because the gym at Bloom is only half regulation size.

Bloom, which relies on original steam radiators, was built in 1915. Though preservationists praise the school as a virtually unaltered example of Second Renaissance Revival architecture, students like Moore pine for a gym to play home games.

But there's hardly room for drills, let alone bleachers.

Twenty-eight schools have no outdoor playing fields and/or have gymnasiums that are undersized or unsuitable for competitive athletics.
Bloom's basketball players say students and staff would have more school spirit if their fans could support them at school. But few fans see Moore's average of 21 points and 10 assists per game.

Moore, an eighth-grader, says he was intimidated the first time he faced off against rival Clark Montessori. The Hyde Park school had bleachers, a booming sound system and a room full of fans.

"Compared to them, our school looks poor," Moore says. "When people come from other schools, we feel stupid. We should get the same stuff they got."

Jennifer Mrozowski

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