Tell me about Stokely Athletic Center.

beachvol23

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It was loud and always smelled. I always thought it would’ve been cool if they gutted the seating and reconfigured it. The sight lines were actually very bad, but because of the flex bleachers and chairs it was thundering.

I also believe a major design flaw of TBA was putting the hard wall and fixed seating down to the floor. Boneheaded! I have written several times about this. They need to cut off the first 5 rows of existing concrete (or however much to fit a hockey rink in it) then put in the retractable risers that extend as close to the basketball floor as possible! This would 💯 totally change TBA to wake the crowd up and get more students closer to the floor!
 
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SGMVols

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I went to a couple of UT volleyball games as an undergrad just out of curiosity to experience Stokely. It was the last year or two before they moved the team to TBA, clearing the way for the eventual demolition. Definitely a unique place. Kind of sad it’s gone.
 
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It's hard to put into words a building's atmosphere. Whatever "it" is, the way the noise reverberates, the memories of games past, the smells, Stokely had "it." When we moved to TBA the new arena's atmosphere felt antiseptic. Whatever Stokely was, it wasn't antiseptic. Infected, maybe?
Also, there was one glass door that for a full academic year was either left unlocked on purpose or broken and they never got around to fixing. You could get in the building after hours. There were some partions or gates or something that slid down so even inside you couldn't roam the building necessarily. But down in the bowels of Stokely it was pretty labyrinthine and it may have been theoretically possible to work your way down and snag a Tennessee Wrestling shirt after the program got disbanded. Theoretically.
 

GUNTERSVOL

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The players wore canvas Converse Chuck Taylors.
Funny you brought those up, Bill Hahn lived in Golf Range apartments, behind Western Plaza, and luckily for me next door to my sister. He would only wear his shoes two games and then get new ones and they gave my sister a few pairs of used ones to share with me. Amongg the many over the top blessings I experienced as a young Vol fan.

My dad was encouraged to get on board shortly after Mears hit town and we signed up as a family for the Orange Tie club. All you needed was desire, money was not a big issue and as luck would have it, our original seats were in the middle of the FRONT row in those folding chairs as referenced earlier. Oddly, the ties were blue with just an orange stripe, but bright Orange vests were standard issue. Go figure. Our luck did change a little, they expanded the section by 6 rows a few years in and added them to the front. So row 7 it was. On top of that the three seats in front of ours were issued to Stu Aberdeen's wife and two rug rats. They were young and stood in their chairs pretty much the whole game with a shaker in each hand. But I still got to see some incredible games.

Now to be totally open, my first few years it was not Stokely at all, It was half a Stokely called The Armory I believe. Just a few rows of bleachers on the opposite side for the student section. Magically the mirror image appeared and the rest is history, including the big T that was rolled out and the team ran though and those outlandish warm ups we had and that odd sound of the ball bouncing on the Tartan floors instead of wood. Only correction to the accounts shared so far is that the early games were Freshmen, not JV (I think). I will never forget those odd banners in the rafters referencing Offensive Efficiency ratings. Fun to look back while I am still capable.
 
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fullmetalvol

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I just read something about John I was not aware of. When he crashed that truck, he had a massive stroke caused by a brain tumor. That explains why he was having a headache that last time I saw him. The pathology of his death tells me that tumor could have been slowly growing in his skull for awhile. Like I said, John was stubborn. He hated doctors. But as to why he was a mess after the Weaver fight? Remember how so many around here acted toward him afterward? Hell, he was crushed by that. As to his horrible life choices? That was a product of his environment. He lived in the projects. Ace Miller tried to help him as much as he could, but somebody selling cocaine got him hooked. He was focused beforehand.

As to CTE? Maybe, but I doubt it. Most of his fights, very few of his opponents got a decent shot at him. He usually knocked them out first. I dare say he caused more CTE than he got. All I know for sure was he was the same John Tate I knew from his days in the golden gloves that night. Same personality. As to his mental lapse that got him knocked out? He wanted to finish that fight the way we were accustomed. He wanted to finish with a knockout for Knoxville. Had he fought Weaver in Vegas or Atlantic City? He probably would have fought smart and stayed back. But he felt the pressure to finish strong fighting here. It is that damn simple.
Back in fall of 78 I was a 20 year old 185lb kid that decided I'd give GG boxing a shot. John would train in the gym at night from time to time. I only spoke to him a few times but he was a friendly nice guy. He could move and box well for a man his size, he was BIG! Coach put me in the ring to spar him once, I think just so I could say I did it. We spared 2 rounds, he literally could have knocked me senseless at any given moment, but he only hit me hard enough to let me know I was nothing more than a little pep squeak nuisance to him. His jab was sooo long, he could hit me from the parking lot:) I wisely decided boxing wasn't my gift after that one season. Drug addiction is just sad. RIP John
 
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Volfan1000

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Adolph Rupp and Joe Hall hated Stokely. Tennessee had a distinct home court advantage when games were played there, especially when Kentucky came to play. No matter how good Kentucky was, teams came there to die. In 1980 - my freshman year at UT - an unranked Tennessee team with two of its best players suspended beat the number 2 Kentucky Wildcats. The atmosphere was electric that day.

Mears was 15-15 in his career against Kentucky.
 
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agVOL90

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It was one of those buildings that if I were lead into it blindfolded I could have quickly told you where I was by the sound, smell and feel of the place. I saw lots of games there a a young kid.

I remember setting behind Coach Majors at a game when he was not at his best one night. He made a mess out of the bleachers before being helped out.

I was a student when TBA was first opened. I liked Stokely but it had its limitations just like all older venues. Hard to beat TBA when it is full and rocking.
 

Buzzbait

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Being a younger fan, I never got to experience Stokely.

Interested in hearing from fans who attended games, concerts, etc. there.

What did you like/dislike about it? What was unique about Stokely compared to other arenas.

I have a big interest in old gyms, arenas, stadiums.
Fantastic venue for indoor track, terrible for basketball except for King, Grunfeld, Justus, Ellis, Hahn, Jackson, Edwards, Wood, Darden, ...................
 
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Back in fall of 78 I was a 20 year old 185lb kid that decided I'd give GG boxing a shot. John would train in the gym at night from time to time. I only spoke to him a few times but he was a friendly nice guy. He could move and box well for a man his size, he was BIG! Coach put me in the ring to spar him once, I think just so I could say I did it. We spared 2 rounds, he literally could have knocked me senseless at any given moment, but he only hit me hard enough to let me know I was nothing more than a little pep squeak nuisance to him. His jab was sooo long, he could hit me from the parking lot:) I wisely decided boxing wasn't my gift after that one season. Drug addiction is just sad. RIP John
The sad thing about John was his life could have been so much better had he been willing to listen to his mentors. I know of alot of people around him who tried to help him. But getting him to listen was a problem. While how his life turned out was tragic, I will remember him as someone who always was happy to see me. I weighed just under 150 at the time. After he won a fight( I think it was his final amateur bout in the Southern Golden Gloves tournament at the KCC) I patted him on the back. He returned it. Thankfully, one of the other boxers was standing next to me, and kept me from ending up on my face. My regret is in the times I saw him later on, I could not find the words that would have made a bigger difference in his life. I cared about him not just as a sports figure, but as a human being. And I treated him the same when he was rising up, when he was on top of his world, and when it was over and he was struggling. I know most people may not think well of him, but I liked him. Just wish he was still around, even if it meant I had to buy him a meal again. So what? It was worth it.
 
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It was loud and always smelled. I always thought it would’ve been cool if they gutted the seating and reconfigured it. The sight lines were actually very bad, but because of the flex bleachers and chairs it was thundering.

I also believe a major design flaw of TBA was putting the hard wall and fixed seating down to the floor. Boneheaded! I have written several times about this. They need to cut off the first 5 rows of existing concrete (or however much to fit a hockey rink in it) then put in the retractable risers that extend as close to the basketball floor as possible! This would 💯 totally change TBA to wake the crowd up and get more students closer to the floor!
I think that design flaw was on purpose. There was one incident I recall of a Vandy fan getting in one of our player's faces at their arena. And if I were to ever run into him, I would still love to knock him on his butt. As it is, TBA kind of avoids that nonsense. While I see your sentiment, I say leave it be.
 

JarrettClass79

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It was loud, Bernie and Ernie show during my college years, yes john Ward up in the bird nest as someone posted, and concerts. I do like TBA because there are more seats closer to the player. Stokely was spread out with a low incline.
 

GoGoVols

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We had seats in the second row of the orange tie club in folding chairs, a blind gentleman sat in front of us on the first row. After the LSU game, I walked across the court to get Pete Maravich’s autograph. He was standing with his dad, who as many know was the coach. I looked up at Pete and asked if he would sign my book. His dad was irritated and tried to shoo me away but Pete looked down, smiled and gave me his autograph. I was 10 and still hold that as one of my fondest memories at Stokley.
 

GUNTERSVOL

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We had seats in the second row of the orange tie club in folding chairs, a blind gentleman sat in front of us on the first row. After the LSU game, I walked across the court to get Pete Maravich’s autograph. He was standing with his dad, who as many know was the coach. I looked up at Pete and asked if he would sign my book. His dad was irritated and tried to shoo me away but Pete looked down, smiled and gave me his autograph. I was 10 and still hold that as one of my fondest memories at Stokley.
Can't remember if Pete had to deal with Bill Hahn 4 or 6 games over his career, but my memory is that he held Pete to his lowest scoring average of any SEC school he faced. A year or two Pete played with Wayne Tipton who graduated about 5 years before me from Bearden. Loved those Bill and Billy (Justus) backcourt years. I guess we had to run across each other as our seats were in the first row, dead middle till they added the six rows to the front.

One of my favorite memories was a Georgia game when one of the fraternities borrowed the warmups from Bearden back when they were Red and white and not maroon and Gray, and dressed up a bunch of average height guys and ran them out right at the end of the Freshmen game and set up in a layup line.... Way too many folks bought it hook, line and sinker till they purposely missed about 10 layups in a row, waved and took a curtain call and ran off the court just before the real team ran out.....

Other random odd memories from the early years.....

When Red Robbins cut his head on the backboard before a game.

When Howard Bayne deposited an opposing player in the old student section after an altercation. He also had a habit of palming the ball behind his back and giving a blood curdling stare to the official before handing over the ball. He was never in danger of winning Mr. Congeniality awards.

When after a terribly frustrating game, Mears set up a special play for Bill Justus to take the game winner as his only points at the foul line extended.

The night every player kept feeding Ron Widby for him to score what was the team record till Tony White broke it.

Watching Tom Boerwinkle's first game as a freshmen.... never seen such a physical transformation over a career.

Wondering if Spook Hendrix face ever changed. Never saw an emotion, ever.

Wondering why Rupp never bought another suit.... brown was ugly!!!

Standing and cheering every time the band marched around the court.

Laughing at Coach Aberdeen when he would run on the court during a timeout to chew on our post players with his head at their waist.

Never tiring of the warmups with Sweet Georgia Brown playing in the background.

Being amazed at the contorted body angles Danny Shultz could employ breaking a press.


Being a carefree kid can be really really fun.....
 

ArdentVol

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Can't remember if Pete had to deal with Bill Hahn 4 or 6 games over his career, but my memory is that he held Pete to his lowest scoring average of any SEC school he faced. A year or two Pete played with Wayne Tipton who graduated about 5 years before me from Bearden. Loved those Bill and Billy (Justus) backcourt years. I guess we had to run across each other as our seats were in the first row, dead middle till they added the six rows to the front.

One of my favorite memories was a Georgia game when one of the fraternities borrowed the warmups from Bearden back when they were Red and white and not maroon and Gray, and dressed up a bunch of average height guys and ran them out right at the end of the Freshmen game and set up in a layup line.... Way too many folks bought it hook, line and sinker till they purposely missed about 10 layups in a row, waved and took a curtain call and ran off the court just before the real team ran out.....

Other random odd memories from the early years.....

When Red Robbins cut his head on the backboard before a game.

When Howard Bayne deposited an opposing player in the old student section after an altercation. He also had a habit of palming the ball behind his back and giving a blood curdling stare to the official before handing over the ball. He was never in danger of winning Mr. Congeniality awards.

When after a terribly frustrating game, Mears set up a special play for Bill Justus to take the game winner as his only points at the foul line extended.

The night every player kept feeding Ron Widby for him to score what was the team record till Tony White broke it.

Watching Tom Boerwinkle's first game as a freshmen.... never seen such a physical transformation over a career.

Wondering if Spook Hendrix face ever changed. Never saw an emotion, ever.

Wondering why Rupp never bought another suit.... brown was ugly!!!

Standing and cheering every time the band marched around the court.

Laughing at Coach Aberdeen when he would run on the court during a timeout to chew on our post players with his head at their waist.

Never tiring of the warmups with Sweet Georgia Brown playing in the background.

Being amazed at the contorted body angles Danny Shultz could employ breaking a press.


Being a carefree kid can be really really fun.....

Can't remember if Pete had to deal with Bill Hahn 4 or 6 games over his career, but my memory is that he held Pete to his lowest scoring average of any SEC school he faced. A year or two Pete played with Wayne Tipton who graduated about 5 years before me from Bearden. Loved those Bill and Billy (Justus) backcourt years. I guess we had to run across each other as our seats were in the first row, dead middle till they added the six rows to the front.

One of my favorite memories was a Georgia game when one of the fraternities borrowed the warmups from Bearden back when they were Red and white and not maroon and Gray, and dressed up a bunch of average height guys and ran them out right at the end of the Freshmen game and set up in a layup line.... Way too many folks bought it hook, line and sinker till they purposely missed about 10 layups in a row, waved and took a curtain call and ran off the court just before the real team ran out.....

Other random odd memories from the early years.....

When Red Robbins cut his head on the backboard before a game.

When Howard Bayne deposited an opposing player in the old student section after an altercation. He also had a habit of palming the ball behind his back and giving a blood curdling stare to the official before handing over the ball. He was never in danger of winning Mr. Congeniality awards.

When after a terribly frustrating game, Mears set up a special play for Bill Justus to take the game winner as his only points at the foul line extended.

The night every player kept feeding Ron Widby for him to score what was the team record till Tony White broke it.

Watching Tom Boerwinkle's first game as a freshmen.... never seen such a physical transformation over a career.

Wondering if Spook Hendrix face ever changed. Never saw an emotion, ever.

Wondering why Rupp never bought another suit.... brown was ugly!!!

Standing and cheering every time the band marched around the court.

Laughing at Coach Aberdeen when he would run on the court during a timeout to chew on our post players with his head at their waist.

Never tiring of the warmups with Sweet Georgia Brown playing in the background.

Being amazed at the contorted body angles Danny Shultz could employ breaking a press.


Being a carefree kid can be really really fun.....
Remember each of your memories all so well.
Even remember watching Bobby Knight toss a chair.

Spook was tireless, and he didn't change expression, and i was shocked to find Danny S. overweight when i attended Mears basketball camp

another trip was the high school basketball tourneys

l had to have that popcorn as soon as we entered stokely, and i'll blame the cigarette smoke on the countless marlboro reds i soon started smoking.
 

VOLINVONORE

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It was smoking. Literally and figuratively.

It doubled as an indoor Track and Field facility. About the first 25 rows on each side were folding chairs and the floors would be pushed back to expand the playing surface.

The best seats were in the end zones.

John Ward had to hike to the extreme last row on the side opposite the benches and then take a long cat walk to a rickety, wooden “bird’s nest” hanging from the rafters.

The US flag was lowered from the rafters by an electric motor and rolled back up after the National Anthem played.

The Volunteer Classic was a 4-team tournament. The center scoreboard was lowered to the ground by another electric motor and the plastic team names were replaced on all 4 sides between games by a guy from the maintenance staff on a ladder. Then he’d go to the upper deck of each end zone and replace the name plates on those 2 scoreboards.

Haywood Harris sat in the center of the court side officials/press row between the benches and manned the mic for the PA system.

The court was Tartan. It was concrete covered in a rubber surface.

There was a Junior Varsity team as well as the Varsity team. Until Grunfeld arrived in 1973, freshmen were not eligible to play Varsity. On double header nights, members of each team sat behind the bench of the other in their bright Orange sport coats.

Mears had a pre-game routine with orange and white basketballs and player drills while Sweet Georgia Brown played over the PA. The finale was Roger Peltz and then Bill Seale peddling on a unicycle to the goal for a layup. The crowd would cheer when the layups were made. I don’t remember, they might have repeated the attempt on misses.

For a season or two there was a mascot that was a large, paper machete Orange that resembled the Syracuse Orange.

The pep band used to come out from underneath an end zone and March around the court.

The concourse was filled with museum pieces. Trophies from every sport and pictures of All-Americans and championship teams.

The east end of the concourse was directly connected to the Gibbs Hall lobby where student-athlete housing was located.

In the early 1970s or late 1960s there was a high school basketball game between Austin-East and another school (Fulton?). The game ended in a riot between fans. The folding chairs became projectiles. The concourse was heavily vandalized including the trophy case. TN then banned high school games in Stokely.
It was a great indoor track facility and was a huge asset to recruiting tack athletes. We haven’ had an on campus track since it was demolished. It had s eating for 12,700 fans
It wants build when I was on campus and was the center of almost all activities except football, basketball, baseball, and swimming. It was probably the best facility in the SEC when it was built. A lot of very good memories were created and left there.


I was
 

mad4vols

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Remember back in the mid 70’s, I must have been in 4th grade. My class went to a circus matinee performance at Stokley. I’ll never forget it, one of the gorillas broke loose from the trainers. I immediately took off up the stairs and out to the lobby. When nobody followed me out, I peeked back in and it was just a person in a gorilla suit and everybody was laughing. I seriously thought I was going to die that day.
 
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