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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

William L. Garrett Memorial Gymnasium – Shelbyville Golden Bears

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

William L. Garrett Memorial Gymnasium 2003 S Miller St Shelbyville, IN 46176

Year Opened: 1967

Capacity: 5,832


A Gym That’s Worthy of Its Name

To talk about Shelbyville High School basketball, one must talk about William Garrett for whom the gymnasium has bared his name since 1974.

Garrett lead the Golden Bears to the school’s only state championship in 1947 while also being named Mr. Basketball. The 6′ 2″ center would become the first African-American in the Big Ten when he enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington in the fall of that year. He would lead the Hoosiers in both rebounding and scoring and had a 19-3 record during his senior year in 1951. His teammates would name him MVP.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education that spring, Garrett was drafted in the second round by the Boston Celtics; however, he was drafted into the U.S. Army a few months later. After two years of service, he found out that he had been cut by the Celtics and embarked on a three-year career with the Harlem Globetrotters.

After he retired from basketball, he took over coaching duties with the Crispus Attucks High School basketball team in 1957 and lead the Tigers to the 1959 state championship. He would remain as coach for 10 years before accepting the position of assistant dean at IUPUI in Indianapolis.

Garrett would die suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of 45 in 1974 and when the school board decided to honor him by renaming its basketball gym, the decision was unanimous. The Shelbyville High School Golden Bears would now play at the William L. Garrett Memorial Gymnasium.

The gym opened on December 15, 1967, with a victory over the Richmond Red Devils and on two occasions in 1968 hosted the Indiana Pacers during their first season in the American Basketball Association. The Pacers played several games at high school gyms that first season to promote its brand to the state. The second contest was an exhibition game.

Food & Beverage 3

Two concession stands are offering the usual items you would find at most Indiana high school gyms. The prices are somewhat less expensive with most items under $2. Popcorn, candy, chips, and cookies (3) are all one dollar and hot dogs, pizza, breadsticks with cheese, and nachos are two dollars. If you are just looking for a snack while you watch the game, this is your type of food. However, if you are looking for something with more substance, you might want to grab something before or after the game.

Atmosphere 3

The first thing that provides the wow factor would be the domed ceiling of the roof that dominates all aspects of the court. It stands out much more dramatically than the similarly designed Case Arena in Frankfort. The golden hues of the walls, ceilings, and lighting provide a regal flair to the proceedings.

The 5,832-rounded gym is the 17th largest high school venue for hoops in the state offering bleacher-style seating split into two sections. The top rows are the dark brown, hardwood variety, while the bottom bleacher seats are more modern and pull-out. There are no obstructed views and there are plenty of areas to enjoy the game with friends and family.

The seating is broken into two sections with permanent wooden seats on top and pull-out modern seating on the floor. Two large signs that say Welcome to Bear Country dominate one side of the gym, while the other side features banners, the most prominent being the 1947 State Championship.

The lobby houses the concession stand along with a trophy case that highlights the school’s history including more paraphernalia from that championship-winning team some 70 years ago.

Neighborhood 3

Shelbyville is a small town right off of I-74 and within a 30-minute drive to Indianapolis. The town features a square and a few local businesses to visit for food before or after the game including the impressive Riverfront Taproom, a family restaurant that brews its own beer and houses varieties from 450 North Brewing in nearby Columbus, Indiana. There are 32 taps and the food offerings include wood-fired pizzas, burgers, and pasta dishes.

Grandma’s Pancake House serves breakfast all day long; the generous portions include omelets and french toast along with sandwiches and salads. The Indiana Live Casino is just a few miles off of I-74 to provide entertainment and fine dining.

Fans 3

The Bears fans are among a great group of Hoosier basketball enthusiasts who enjoy a good game and cheer their side to victory. There are games against rivals that bring out a larger fan base but all support the program through and through.

Access 3

The design of the fieldhouse makes it quite easy to get around to any first-time visitor. Some staircases take fans to the upper sections and all bathrooms, concessions, and exits are marked throughout the building. The facility is also easy to arrive at off of I-74, located a few miles south of the square and adjacent to the high school.

Return on Investment 3

The gym is one of the easiest and most accessible facilities in the state due to its location near Indianapolis and its proximity to the interstate exit. Therefore, making a trip for a game is quite an enjoyable experience. This gym is easy on the eyes and beautiful to look around as you watch top-level basketball in the state of Indiana. The price of tickets is only $5 for adults and the concession prices are low for other high school facilities.

Extras 3

The gym gets a star for the name after William Garrett, a former player who not only excelled on the court but in life. His legacy will always be remembered here in Shelbyville. A second star for the dome roof and the arching roof provides a beautiful backdrop to the game of basketball. The school’s colors black and gold shine brightly throughout the building. A final star is for the colors black and gold which provide beautiful colors and aesthetics inside the gym.

Final Thoughts

William Garrett gymnasium is among one of the nicer gyms in the state of Indiana. worthy of a game or two throughout the cold, winter months here in Indiana.

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