If there is one place in Havre that is totally, and completely enriched in sports history, it is the Havre Central Gym.
St. Jude Thaddeus School is celebrating its 95th birthday this year. And while the gymnasium wasn’t actually built and opened until 1951, Havre Central is anything but lacking in the history department.
The gym has seen some of Havre, as well as the state's top athletes.
Going back to almost the gymnasiums’ debut season, names such as Leeds, Mariani, Evans, Kato, Roe, Kinsella and McLain still have a prominent presence in Havre.
Marc Mariani is the most recent St. Jude’s alumni to make it big after getting his start at Havre Central. Mariani went on to be a standout athlete at Havre High, the University of Montana, and now in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
Havre Central has also seen some top coaches come through the doors, including Chris Daniel, who is now an assistant at Montana State University Northern, and Dustin Kraske, who has led the Havre High varsity girls basketball team to a number of successful seasons.
Havre Central High School was the original occupants of the gym. The high school opened in 1949, giving the school an instant mascot, in the 49ers. The 49ers logo has stood proud in the center of the gym floor ever since, and even got a touchup last year.
But the logo at center court isn’t the only thing that has seen a touch of upgrading over the years.
Havre Central has been well kept. At first glance it looks old, but without losing its rustic appeal, it couldn’t be nicer. The floors have been redone a number of times over the years, as well as the original bleachers earning their fresh coat of grey paint off and on. And last spring a booth was built on the north side of the gym to be used as a sound booth as well as a radio booth for plays, concerts and sporting events. The stage, located just to the west of the gym floor also kept its zeal over the years, another big contributor the gym's history.
The most recent updates to the gym were the two new scoreboards hung at either end of the floor, as well as the new stage lighting system that was installed, helping shed a little more light on school and community productions.
With all of the constant upkeep, and the few modern upgrades, the Havre Central Gym really isn’t in need of anything major. Its historic appearance gives the crowed a unique experience that can’t really be matched anywhere else, especially not in Havre.
And going forward, the goal isn’t to change anything in the gym, it is to get used more and more by the community and other sports programs.
The boys and girls Blue Pony basketball programs normally play at least one game there each year. Havre Central also housed soccer over the summer, as well as host’s softball on occasion and adult coed volleyball on Sundays during the season. And as the need for space continues to be in demand for community events, Havre Central also hosts Zumba dancing now, as well as an occasional school dance, play and concert.
But the Havre Central Gym is still producing outstanding athletes as well. In 2009 the boys basketball team was the No. 1 District 9C Junior High basketball team, and last season they managed to grab a No. 2 finish.
And if you take a walk downstars, you will see exactly what kind of sports history the Central Gym harbors in those walls. Two walls are nearly covered with team photos dating all the way back to 1951 for the boys and 1978 for the girls. And on another wall, a massive trophy case with over 60 trophies, plaques and championship nets, forever recognizing the talented volleyball, soccer and basketball players that have come and gone over the last five decades.