Published Jan. 10, 2019
From basketball to rallies and musicals
Booker T field house demonstrates the value of multipurpose usage
Many people expect their local high school gymnasium to handle not just basketball, but wrestling, volleyball, and just about any other indoor sport. Many schools stretch their building's multipurpose aspect to pep rallies and assemblies.
Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa, OK, uses its six-year-old gym for all these purposes and more. The Nathan E. Harris Field House, home of the Hornets, has staged musicals and concerts, hosted baby showers and wedding parties, and served countless other community group meetings.
"Requests come not just from our local neighborhoods," said Assistant Principal Matt Myers, who oversees campus building usage. "We get inquiries from all over the city. Just last week we had representatives from the All-American Bowl ask about using the building because one of our boys is on that team."
It helps that this 1514 E. Zion St. field house provides more than a sizable wood floor with bleachers seating 1,500+ people. Designed by David Reed, a principal of Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors, this 56,400-square-foot brick structure offers:
A hospitality suite able to serve more than 20 individuals.
Offices for the school's athletic department and coaches.
A pitching and batting room.
A pom and cheer practice room.
A trophy hall used by the entire school.
A weight room.
Locker rooms for every BTW team.
Storage and other spaces.
That gives the field house enough flexibility to meet almost any community need, an attribute that helps Booker T. fulfill its mission.
"One big responsibility of any public school is to serve as a place where the community may come together," said Myers. "This field house helps us to do that. And it's flattering whenever people call in and say, ‘I want to host this event at your school.'"
Adding this facility came at a cost, for the $11.2 million project replaced a historic gym where Kenny Monday never lost a wrestling match and Waymon Tisdale ruled northeastern Oklahoma's basketball world. But soon after Flintco finished construction of the new Hornets' nest in February 2012, the beautiful field house won the hearts of alumni and fans. It also helped the 2017 women's basketball team give Booker T. another state championship.
"This space is very precious to our community," said Myers. "And there's lots of pride in this school for this facility, to say the least. There's a very, very obvious cultural affinity for alumni and current students that comes with being a Hornet."