Everyone knows Georgetown University. And many know that it is the oldest catholic university in the United States. But not as many people know of the second oldest catholic university, Mount St. Mary's University, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In fact “The Mount” is the oldest independent catholic institution of higher learning in the country, having started in 1808. Approximately 2,250 students attend the university.
Located in a semi-mountainous area of Frederick County, Maryland just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Mount St. Mary's sits on 1,400 acres at the base of the Catoctin Mountains. No wonder the school adopted the Mountaineers moniker for their sports teams.
NCAA success in basketball has been consistent for the university. They were NCAA Division II national champions in 1962 and have appeared in four NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournaments. That last appearance was in 2014 as they were the only Division I school in the state to make the big dance that season. They lost to Albany 64–71 as part of the “First Four” games played in Dayton, Ohio.
Former coach Jim Phelan was in charge of the Mountaineers program from 1954 to 2003. 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2008. As of the 2014-2015 season he is at 14th most all time wins and his 1,354 games coached is 4th on the all time list.
Mount St. Mary's has had some success in other sports, most notably track. In the 1988 Olympic Games, Mount St. Mary's athlete Peter Rono won gold in the 1500 meters run.
Babe Ruth was even discovered here on campus, as his Mary's Industrial School for Boys of Baltimore played a game here in Emmitsburg, which was noticed by a scout from the then minor league Baltimore Orioles.
The Mountaineers moved into Knott Arena in 1987. Previously they played their home games in Memorial Gymnasium which was built in 1948 and still sits on the main part of the university’s campus.
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There are two small food stands, each located on the ends of the small concourse. Use the east side stand as it tends to get slightly less traffic. But you will seldom have to wait long as they are usually not that busy.
Food offerings are light so you may wish to eat before the game. What they do have is very fair in price, just note that they are both cash only. A PNC Bank ATM is found in the concourse lobby.
Hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, sodas and some light snacks are all $2. Cookies, chips and candy are $1. Soda is Pepsi brands.
The main seating in Knott Arena is wooden bleachers. The lower section of the east stands has seats with seat back. If you sit on the wooden bleachers, you can expect to be a little uncomfortable. The arena seats could use to be remodeled and replaced with better options.
There are the east and west stands for most of the spectators, with a small student section located on the north end. The student section was formerly known as the home of the "Mount Maniacs," but now is the location of "Mount Mayhem," named in honor of current coach Jamion Christian's "mayhem" style of play.
Knott Arena is a pretty simple place, but can get pretty loud at times. The design is meant to recreate the atmosphere at their former home, while still offering modern amenities.
The university does have a cheerleaders squad that entertains at some breaks in the game, as well as providing cheers during the game.
Take note of the banners in the arena showing the great successes of the basketball programs at Mount St. Mary's.
There is nothing within walking distance to the campus. You will need to make a short drive into town to find any food or drink options. Emmitsburg is a pretty small town, but does have some interesting places that draw people to the area, besides just the university. The town is the home of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, National Emergency Training Center, and Emergency Management Institute.
Also in the immediate area are some very notable Catholic attractions. It is a Catholic pilgrimage site and is the location of the Basilica and National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as well as the site of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. A trip to the area demands a visit to the grotto even if you are not religious. It would be hard not to be impressed with the quiet awesomeness found here.
Nearby Thurmont also has some attractions of its own, including Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, which contains the presidential retreat of Camp David. Just note if you are hiking in the woods and see signs to turn around or be shot, these are not jokes.
Frederick is about 30 miles away, while Baltimore (60 miles) and Washington, DC (70 miles) are the closest large cities.
Back in Emmitsburg, the best food option is the The Ott House Pub in downtown. This bar and restaurant is a great mix of locals, firefighters, and university students. The food menu will not blow you away but their Wings, as well as their hot roast beef sandwich, will certainly hit the spot. Check to see if they have a local beer from Flying Dog Brewery on tap.
Gettysburg is 13 miles north. If you have time to visit the massive amounts of memorials and battlegrounds you should do so. Just plan ahead as crowds are huge at many times of the year.
The "Mount Mayhem" section can be loud and intense if students are on campus. But speaking of intense, that could describe the regular crowd as well. They take the game very seriously. During a recent game that I attended, the game had gotten pretty "chippy" later into the action with a couple of near fights seeming to break out. The fans around me seemed ready to jump in and defend their guys if needed. It never got close to going that far, but I could tell this is a crowd who passionately supports their team.
Sure Emmitsburg can feel like it is in the middle of nowhere, but it really is not. There is major highway, Route 15, that divides the campus. This route runs from Frederick in the south, northwards towards Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
Knott Arena, and the rest of the PNC Sports Complex, is located on the east side of Route 15, while the main part of the university campus is located on the west side. A well lit and secured tunnel connect the two parts of campus.
There is also plenty of free parking. Many parking attendants will be there to direct you to a good parking spot. At the end of the night, these same attendants will direct you to a convenient exit onto Route 15 just north of campus.
General admission tickets (the unreserved bleacher seats) are $5 each. Section 5, which includes the center court bleacher seats, are $10 each. The Blue Arm Chair seats are $12 each.
With simple and cheap prices, games at "The Mount" are a great value, especially for Division I athletics. Parking is free, adding to the value of seeing a Mountaineers game.
Check out the interesting John J. Dillon Field House roof. This recreation center is attached to Knott Arena and has four multi purpose basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts and is surrounded by a jogging track. The roof is some sort of air controlled roof reminiscent of some of the older domed stadiums, such as the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
With Jim Phelan, Mount St. Mary's had one of the greatest basketball coaches in NCAA history. Check out all the banners and other historical items around the arena and concourse.
If one does not stop by and check out some of the Catholic icons in the area, you are really missing something. The Grotto of Lourdes is a fantastic and serene place that takes you to another place.
Mount St. Mary's can often be forgotten about because of its seemingly isolated location. But a basketball fan needs to make a visit as high quality Division I basketball is being played at a comfortable arena, at amazingly cheap prices.
Known as the Free State and the Old Line State, Maryland possesses another nickname as well, 'America in Miniature'. The nickname was thought of and grew in popularity because of the diversity in the landscape throughout the state, despite being just 42nd out of 50 in total land area. If you want to go to a college near the beach, schools like Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore have campuses near Ocean City, the most popular beach resort in the state. If you want to go to school in a big city the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Morgan State University are some options for you with campuses inside the city of Baltimore. Not every area in Maryland is urban and crowded, however. For students who enjoy the open roads and clear skies, Mount St. Mary's University is a great option.
A private Catholic university in Emmitsburg, Maryland, MSM is the oldest independent Catholic college in the United States, the second oldest Catholic college behind Georgetown and enrolls a total of about 2,100 students. Established in 1808, Mount St. Mary's rests on 1,400 acres right in front of the Catoctin Mountains, giving the school a beautiful backdrop as well as the reasoning behind MSM's athletics nickname the Mountaineers.
Officially the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers but often shorthanded as simply The Mount, the university's athletic teams are members of the Northeast Conference (NEC) in Division I. The NEC was established in 1981 and added Mount St. Mary's from Division II in 1989. Mount St. Mary's is one of five schools in the 12-member NEC that do not have a football team, which puts more focus on the men's basketball team. Since moving to the top division in 1989 the Mountaineers have been the conference regular season champion once, in 1996. The automatic bid to be a part of March Madness though goes to the NEC Tournament Champion and the Mountaineers have won the tournament and been part of the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Tournament three times (1995, 1999 and 2008). In 2008, the Mountaineers were participants of the "play-in" game to earn a 16 seed. Mount St. Mary's defeated Coppin State University, also located in Maryland, in that game for their first NCAA Tournament win in school history.
Knott Arena has been the home of the Mountaineers since 1987. The arena is in the middle of the pack in seating capacity compared to other schools in the NEC with a capacity of 3,121. As part of the Knott Complex located across the street from the main Mount St. Mary's campus, Knott Arena looks very good for its age, and while there isn't much in the stadium experience here that will knock you off your feet, a trip to Knott Arena is an inexpensive way to enjoy basketball, especially with kids.
5 Main St
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
304 East Main St
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
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