Jeff Gym: an oldie, but a goody

Jefferson Gymnasium

Since I have stepped foot into the Daily Freeman-Journal office, I have been designated Wednesday as a day to type down my thoughts and convert them into newsprint. I always like to include a photo, because pictures have become my bread and butter over the course of a decade of my time in journalism.

Within my two weeks of calling Webster City home, I have received plenty of warm welcomes, praises and a healthy dosage of feedback. The latter is very much appreciated.

From the proverbial suggestion box, I noticed that ya’ll want one thing over anything else: a good presence when it comes to local sports.

Ya’ll are in dire need of it, since Troy Banning (the man, the myth, the legend) took a final bow this past summer. The crew in Fort Dodge, along with several talented freelancers, held things together until my arrival on Jan. 23.

By general principle, it takes a little time for someone completely new to this side of the area to become aware and knowledgeable of their surroundings.

The awesome part of all of this, is that we all have time on our side. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with seeing familiar places with a set of fresh eyes.

Speaking of seeing familiar places from a new pair of eyes, look no further than the historic Jefferson Gymnasium.

It’s smack dab in the heart of Webster City. From the slate gray exterior, it is a hallmark of Great Depression-era engineering.

It sticks out, compared to the rest of Webster City Middle School. However, it’s connected to the more modern settings of the contemporary structure.

From the newer construction, you wind through the hallways, a maze of nooks and crannies. For the uninitiated, you could find yourself in the multi-purpose room and mistake the smaller extension for the old gym.

But, finally, you get there. An unremarkable sign above the door, labeled “Jefferson Gym,” awaits.

Stepping through the doors, the environment opens up. The walls are adorned with purple and gold, marked with different variations of the lynx.

On the face of the eastern wall, is an oversized lynx and a giant “LYNX.” The paint looked like it was thrown on yesterday. It’s that clean.

Below is solid purple padding.

On the far side is the purple and athletic gold striped padding with markings of “Webster City” and “Lynx,” straddling previous iterations of the forest-dwelling cat. Along the top of the west wall, which runs parallel with Prospect Street, are the throwback logos from WCHS and the North Central Conference.

Hold up, one second. Who doesn’t like a Lynx rocking a sweater?

If a WCHS alumnus/alumna wants to recreate that logo for the district in the near future, I’ll help with promoting the heck out of it.

Looking around, there’s three tiers of seating on both north and south ends. There are semi-spacious baselines, yet in a big game, the home and visiting fans are prone to being literally on top of players, officials and the occasional (and sometimes unlucky) photographer.

The middle tier feels like covered seating like you would find at an old baseball stadium. The top set of bleachers invoke movies like “Hoosiers.”

Truth be told, I’d never stepped foot in the Jeff Gym until last Friday night, when the Lynx hosted Humboldt.

There were moments, especially if you sit close to “the Lynx den” student section, where your ears could ring for the rest of the night. It’s a hot box, and it is indeed a fortress of purple and gold.

Due to some recent water/floor issues within the Competition Gym at the high school, all remaining home basketball games played by the Lynx are being held within this grand ole gym.

I’m all for it.

From a photographer’s point of view, the lighting is phenomenal. There are many different viewpoints, from the top bleachers to the corners of the floor itself, for different angles and unique perspectives.

I will probably never run out of places to shoot pictures from. I also kidded with Webster City Athletic Director Jess Howard about combining the lighting of Jeff Gym with the spaciousness of the Competition Gym.

The next move is yours, WCCSD.

But for now, let’s enjoy the vintage atmosphere that the Jeff Gym brings to the table. One small suggestion from “the new guy” is to have the Lynx pick up a few more games within this landmark.

It can be where nostalgia and new memories can combine, creating an all-time favorite place to catch a game of hoops.

To give ya’ll a heads up for next time, I’ll give the full observations from the winter sports seasons. I’m looking forward to gathering and revealing all of those thoughts, as it has been a pleasure to catch the Lynx in action and my keeping tabs on South Hamilton.

I’m the type of guy who waits until the very end to put everything into perspective.


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