The Kennel (1965-2004) - Closing Thoughts
Feb. 20, 2004
As the final days of playing collegiate basketball in The Kennel approach, GoZags.com took a few minutes to ask Gonzaga fans, students, faculty and even a few former Bulldog players their thoughts on The Kennel. Below are the responses and some insight on people's feelings about the New Gonzaga Arena, set to open for the 2004-05 basketball season.
What does the Kennel mean to you?
The Kennel holds wonderful memories for me both as a Gonzaga student and as president. I recall many games in the Big Sky Conference with friends. The Gonzaga spirit has grown significantly with the team's incredible success. Now the team has outgrown the Kennel, and it's time to start growing some new great memories in the new Kennel.
The Kennel is one of the most intimidating places to play in the nation. Where we come to cheer for our classmates, friends and roommates.
Playing in the Kennel is something that I wish everyone can experience! The energy that the fans bring to the game is unbelievable and that's why this is one of the hardest places to play in the country! The Kennel (Martin Centre) will be gone but defiantly not forgotten! Thanks!
The Kennel stands for support and enthusiasm.
The Kennel means basketball, school spirit, excitement, good times, pride, tradition--whether it's memories of Billy Suter and Gary Lechman playing for Hank A, the memories associated with the success of recent teams and players, or all the teams in between, including families involved in b-ball: the McPhees and the Spinks.
There has been much talk of the "Cameron Crazies" and the like; however, the basketball world is finally realizing the uniqueness and unparalled experience you have when playing in the Kennel. One cannot aptly describe the feelings it produces, the excitement it generates, nor the pain it can inflict on the opposing teams psyche. In other words....the Kennel is pure madness wrapped in a gym. The creation is the ultimate college basketball setting which has no equal.
It is really something special. People can talk about Duke, Michigan State and Kansas, but there is nothing like watching a game in The Kennel.
Fun, Excitement, gathering place for everybody, where being tall is an advantage on the court or in the student stands, chanting "we want Wendy's", laughter and a few tears over the years.
The Kennel is place where we played intramurals, registered for classes and for some of us, we spent more time here than we did in the library. The Kennel is always a great place to hang out.
To me the Kennel means Family, for almost 40 years I've attended GU games at the Kennel, first with my Dad and then with my own kids always sitting in the same seats. We were in the Big Sky league when I was young and I remember the excitement of those games. To this day I love to see that look of wonderment in a young GU fans eyes when he looks up at his Dad and smiles when a big play happens. To me the Kennel means family.
I have been going to basketball games in The Kennel since 1978 when I started as an undergrad. I remember my senior year when I was taking a night class and we would beg and plead for our teacher to let us out early so we could get to the weeknight games (John Stockton was a sophomore then). The Kennel is also a place with lots of memories for my family. My kids slept their way through games in car seats and both ended up being ball-boy & ball-girl for the men's & women's teams. Ronny Turiaf played one-on-one with (son) Colin after school one day in the Kennel. My experiences with The Kennel have gone from sitting in the student section as a student, sitting on the reserved side (before they made more of the seats reserved) to standing now behind the ever-growing Kennel Club!
The Kennel is all about the people who have made this place magic. It is Pat Craigen, who got the first season ticket in the Kennel back in 1965. It's Bill and Liz Wrigglesworth, who have tirelessly supported the athletic program and offered sage advice to the coaches from their courtside seats. It's Captain Zag. It is the old baseball halftime routines. It's Emma Wasson, who has been coming to Gonzaga games since 1970, giving the referees a piece of her mind and the basketball boys her utmost support. It's fireman Mike Shields, who has seen all but one of 500 games ever played in The Kennel. It's young Mike Shields, who had the vision to start the Kennel Club in 1984. It's trainer Steve DeLong, who has been every player's big brother over the past 25 years. It's Padre Tony Lehmann, his quiet presence deafening on the end of the Bulldog bench. It's Bud Presley, the freshman coach who everyone adored, and its so many players who touched our hearts over the years -- John Stockton who set a new standard and got this whole ball rolling, the brothers McPhee who used every ounce of their God-given ability to help propel this program, the Spink brothers who played so hard with such gusto, it's Quentin Hall and his insatiable spirit. It's been home to me and my family on Thursday and Saturday nights for the past 23 years. It's friends.
The Kennel is the best community of friends I have ever made.
The Kennel meant: A home away from home for 5 years. A place where I got better, got worse, got stronger, got weaker, got praised, got yelled at, got hurt, got healthy, got mad, got happy. A place where I made people better, made people worse, made people stronger, made people weaker, made people get praised, made people get yelled at, made people hurt, made people healthy, made people mad, made people happy. Above all, a place that was more than a building, it was life.
The Kennel has become one of the toughest College Basketball venues in the whole U-S-A. Why? Because Gonzaga University has dared to become one of THE best programs in the country. AND I GOT TO WATCH IT ALL HAPPEN OVER THE PAST FIFTEEN YEARS.
For me, The Kennel is a place of joy and excitement where all the best that is Gonzaga is demonstrated by the athletes who have participated there. Not only the stars who stood out, but the lessor media known players like a Matt Stanford or the three Spinks, Axel, Jamie, Colin or Brian. It has always been a place of family. In my early years I could always take my wife and four children. That is hard to do now, but each of them became followers of GU. The Kennel really means Gonzaga to me.
What are your thoughts on the new Gonzaga Arena?
For me the new Gonzaga Arena is a dream to increase the space for more people to come to and follow Gonzaga basketball and other sporting activity. Whenever, I meet someone who tells me how much they would love to see a Gonzaga basketball game I only wish we could squeeze a few more people in. The New Kennel will be a tribute to the hard work of all the previous student-athletes and coaches who have sweated on the court of the old Kennel. My hope is we can maintain the family atmosphere and all the of the excitement and joy that is the best of Gonzaga and just maybe even more of the community will be able to see and watch the Bulldogs.
Greatest thing to ever happen to Gonzaga basketball.
It is a step that the program needs to take to get to the next level but everyone will miss the old building.
The Kennel is THE place for basketball in the STATE of Washington. I predict the New Kennel will be THE place for basketball in the Pacific Northwest.
Great opportunity for more students, faculty, staff and community members to share in all of the above, plus the benefit of having the team play in an arena that fits their national standing.
It will be louder and crazier than the new Kennel.
The new Kennel is great for the school and program. It had to be done. Great that they kept the students in mind by still having them sit courtside.
I remember the day on which this arena was conceived when sitting in a coffee shop with Mark Few in Salt Lake City before a visit with the Tom and Phil McCarthey, who have made this arena a reality. I was checking my impressions with Mark, asking him if the athletic endowment was his first priority. He looked up at me quite surprised and said, "Not really. What we really need is a new arena." To which I responded, "A new arena? What are you thinking about?" The rest has been an exhilarating history of making this dream a reality. The generosity of the McCarthey family and so many other fine benefactors; the competence of John Stone, Tim Barnard, Chuck Murphy, Ken Sammons, Mike Roth, Chris Standiford and so many other trustees and athletic department staff; the competence and coordination of Tim Welsh (Garco) and Steve Hindley (ALSC Architects) in the construction of the facility - this all has been a testimony to what the team has inspired and to what Gonzaga can do. Despite some challenges, the process has provided an awakening that will benefit Gonzaga's athletic as well as academic programs for decades to come. Thanks everybody!
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