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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sports Feature                                                                                                                                                                                                     February 20, 2004                9
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Images from the final
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               day of games at Darby
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Gymnasium, left to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               right: The crowd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               celebrates a 3-pointer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               during the men’s 108-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               105 win over Knox.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Trek Langenhan ‘07
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               pulls up for a trey on the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               wing against the Prairie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Fire. Hannah Phelps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ‘04 sells “Save Darby” t-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               shirts during a break in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               the action. Katy Bowen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ‘06 and the women’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               basketball team walk off
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               the floor following a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               71-52 victory over
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Knox. Background: The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               south end of Darby
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Gym.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  photos by Jillian Caly,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Meghan Kirkwood and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          David Kennedy




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          power
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          of two
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Missy Sharer ‘91 and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Laura VanSickle ‘90 led
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Grinnell women’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          basketball to its greatest                      Banners for Missy Sharer ‘91 and Laura VanSickle ‘90, the only two Grinnell basketball
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          heights                                         players to ever have their numbers retired.                      photo by Jillian Caly




Darby Gym               by Colin Sollitt                                   “From the ‘50s to 1963, the Grinnell High School would use the       come.”
                                                                                                                                                                     (1943-2004)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             by Bradley Iverson-Long                        VanSickle had a commanding presence on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Darby Gym is not just a place for Grin- the court. “She had these long arms with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          nell athletes to make sports history, but a really pointy elbows and a thick blonde
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          place to honor sports history. Beside the braid,” Toft said. “She was like a Valkyrie.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          banners lining the rafters for volleyball and         VanSickle also was determined and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          basketball team accomplishments, two ban- durable. She played all 86 games during her
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ners hang from the south wall of Darby four-year Grinnell career, starting 84 of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          honoring the stars of Grinnell’s last basket- them. Laura regularly played through pain.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ball powerhouse program, the women’s Andy Hamilton ’85, then an assistant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          teams of the late 80s and early 90s. Num- coach, remembers one game against
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Missy,” said Wood.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “I wish I would have had more than
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            one year to play with Laura,” said Sharer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “I think that if we played a couple more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            years together, we could have come close to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            being national champions.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After VanSickle graduated, Sharer took
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            control of the Pioneers’ 1990-91 campaign.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She led Division III scoring, averaging 33.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            points per game, and was named a Kodak
     After responding to extraordinary demands put on the current building for basketball games,” said Johnson. “The high school games
facilities, an enormous building complex, in an architectural style would be on Fridays, sometimes Tuesdays, and the college games
incongruous with the rest of the campus, was being constructed on would be on the weekend.”
                                                                                                                                                     With the upswing in the men’s basketball team’s fortunes, the
                                                                                                                                                students’ zeal for the team grew enormously, and the crowd became
                                                                                                                                                among the most intimidating in the Midwestern Conference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Darby II: The Return                                                   ber 40, Laura VanSickle ’90 powered the Monmouth: “Laura got hit in the eye in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pioneer women to their first winning warm-ups. A ball caromed off her face. Her
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First Team All-American.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Missy’s 33 points a game were in stan-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          record, and number 30, Missy Sharer ’91 eye was swollen up and she had an icebag                  dardized basketball, not the way it’s being
the northern half of the Grinnell College campus. Named after some         Sometimes, though, certain college officials wouldn’t like Grin-          “The crowd’s support in here for the basketball team is the best      Grinnell’s volleyball and basketball teams                                     led the team to a Mid-                                                  on during announce-       played in Grinnell now,” Eskildsen said.
of the largest donors in Grinnell history, it had the latest in modern nell inhabitants to intrude too much. “My husband, who played on         I’ve ever seen,” said men’s basketball manager Marie Liska ’07.
amenities. Was it the East Campus building cam-                                              the Grinnell High School basketball team,               “It’s all about the crowd and the game,” fellow manager Katherine     will have a new gym by the winter of 2005                                      west Conference Cham-                                                   ments. Then she           “She averaged 33 points in a half court of-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pionship in 1991.                                                       turned around and         fense.”
paign of 2003? No, it was the Darby Gymnasium                                                would be chased out of the gym by [Grinnell        Sparks ’07 concurred. “The Darby experience is all about the crowd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               “They’re the greatest “They’re the greatest                        scored 34 points. It            Sharer’s statistical accomplishments
building campaign of 1943.                               “I love shooting bas-               coaching legend] John Pfitsch,” explained          and the treys.”                                                               Darby Gymnasium and the Physical Education Complex have long                women basketball play-                                                  was hard for me to        drove the team’s success. The 1990-91 Pio-
     Darby hosted its first collegiate game on Dec.                                          Johnson, “and then my husband would just run            Much like that first win over Cornell 10 years earlier, the final     been institutions at Grinnell College; however, the College has decided        ers to come out of Grin- women basketball                               even look at her with     neers won a school record 20 games, and
7, 1942, one year to the day after Pearl Harbor. kets with my family                         around the building and rush back in the other     win was just as dramatic, with Steve Wood ’04 hitting the game-            that due to their age and outmoded space and equipment, they need              nell” said Ted Eskildsen,                                                                         took the Midwest Conference tournament
(Grinnell beat Iowa State, 37-30.) Since its official                                        side… It was great of the College to share.”       winning shot at the horn. Only this time, the fans stormed the floor       to be replaced.                                                                                                players to come out of that eye, but she had
completion the following year, the facility has been and hearing the echo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          VanSickle and Sharer’s                                                  a fabulous game.”         in Darby, defeating Illinois College 77-69.
                                                                                                  Darby has not been a stranger to celebrity    not once but twice, first after the shot, and, after officals put 0.6         As a part of Grinnell’s drive to renew the on-campus facilities, a 10-      coach at Grinnell. “Laura Grinnell.”                                         Despite her force-   In her last game, Sharer led Grinnell with
the site of commencement ceremonies, lectures, off of Darby’s walls                          either. On Oct. 29, 1967, Martin Luther King,      seconds back on the clock, again after visitng Knox failed to score.       person board of administrators and professors, authorized the building         VanSickle was definitely                                                ful play, Wood re-        42 points, seven assists and seven rebounds.
conferences, dances, concerts, and a speech made                                             Jr. spoke in the gym, urging Grinnell College           “I would have liked to keep the 18 point spread,” said Arseneault,    of a large athletic complex north of Tenth Avenue last September. Set          the best post player to          —Ted Eskildsen, former members Laura as “a                       During one stretch, she personally scored
by Martin Luther King, Jr. Moreover, it has been a with every bounce. It                     students to “stay awake during the revolution.”    “but that game was just extraordinary.”                                    around Rosenbloom Field, the complex will consist of an aquatic
center for the entire town.                                                                  Nationally known college basketball coach               Though the crowd has played its part in the Darby experience,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ever come out of [Grin-          women’s basketball coach typical Grinnellian.                    10 straight points.
     Darby came into being when the women’s gym-
                                                         feels like the ‘Hoo-                David Arseneault, the fabled Pfitsch, and count-   Arseneault emphasizes the facility’s charm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           center, “performance gymnasium,” and a field house. According to a             nell]. Missy was the                                                    She was very sensitive          “In that championship game, Missy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Grinnell College news release, included in the plans are “an expansive         greatest competitor ever                                                of the thoughts and       loaded the team on her back and helped
nasium burned to the ground in 1939. When the siers’ movie.”                                 less commencement speakers also have walked             “My favorite moments in Darby is taking my two kids over there        pathway from the Rosenfield Campus Center, across Tenth Avenue to a            to play at Grinnell Col-                                                feelings of her team-     them win,” said Hamilton.
women took over the men’s old gym between ARH
and Noyce Science Center and the men demanded
                                                                                                         Darby Gymnasium.
                                                               —David Arseneault, the floor ofthe PEC was completed in 1971,
                                                                                                  When
                                                                                                                                                and watching the snow fall,” he said. “I love shooting baskets with
                                                                                                                                                my family and hearing the echo off of Darby’s walls with every bounce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           vista overlooking Rosenbloom Field and other views to the north.”              lege.”                                            mates.”                                               “We really set a precedent,” Sharer said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With construction already underway, Grinnell expects the                         Beyond being teammates, roommates                “(Laura was) a wonderful representa-        “Since then, the athletics at Grinnell have
another gymnasium for themselves, the College men’s basketball coach                         many of the athletic functions were transferred    It feels like the ‘Hoosiers’ movie.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           performance gym that will replace Darby to be completed in the                 and wallmates, VanSickle and Sharer both tive of Grinnell,” said Eskildsen.                       grown and are really strong now. I’m really
swung into action. They built an Art Deco gymna-                                             to the new facility, so Darby’s functions were          Despite renewed enthusiasm in the facility, Darby is no longer as
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           winter of 2005. Upon the gymnasium’s completion, construction will             were named the GTE Academic All-Ameri-                Sharp-shooting 5’8" guard Missy Sharer      proud to say that I went to Grinnell.”
sium with the best “modern equipment, training                                               reduced to hosting basketball and volleyball       modern and innovative as it once was. “The facility has outlasted its
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           begin on the other facilities. Completion dates remain uncertain.              can Player of the Year. Each won the award, came to Grinnell in 1989 as a transfer stu-                 Missy Sharer finished her brief two-year
resources, and recreational areas.” The Athletic Director’s Adminis- games. But although it was no longer the sole athletic hub of the          usefulness,” said Arseneault.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Designed by the firms of Cesar Pelli & Associates and Sasaki &              which recognizes the best student-athlete dent from Marshalltown Community Col-                   Pioneer career as Grinnell’s leader in career
trative Assistant Patty Johnson, who was “born and raised in Grin- College, Darby was also rejuvenated as Grinnell’s technological cen-              As part of a sweeping plan to modernize the facilities and to bring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Associates, the building will be built in brick with a large usage of          from over 450 Division II and Division III lege.                                                  three pointers and free throws, and second
nell” and “has spent all but five years” of her life here, reminisces ter when ITS moved in in 1974. Since then, the Craft Workshop             the campus closer together, the College accepted a deal to tear down
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           glass, reflecting the styles of the Bucksbaum Fine Arts Center and the         schools, during their respective senior years.        “I got recruited again to go to a Divi-     in points. “When we needed points, Missy
about the amenities.                                                   and the KDIC studio and office have been added, attracting a host of     Darby to make way for the Rosenfield Campus Center, which should
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Noyce Science Center. According to a Grinnell College news release,                 VanSickle, a 6’2" post player from Lee’s sion I school, and I just really didn’t want        was going to score,” Wood said.
     “There were plenty of locker rooms,” she said. “The southern non-sports-playing students into the building.                                be finished in two years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the project is estimated to cost 20 million dollars.                           Summit, Mo., also holds the Pioneer to play Division I basketball,” said Sharer.                        VanSickle and Sharer’s numbers will
end of the gym used to have reserved seating. The seats looked like        In May of 1994, Darby entered its golden afternoon with the re-           Protective of their stadium, the students and community mem-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Funds for the capital improvements mainly comes from the College’s          women’s record for points and rebounds.               During the 1989-90 season, Sharer and       hang in the rafters at the new gym, although
they were speckled marble.”                                            emergence of the men’s basketball team and their crowd-pleasing full-    bers alike started wearing “Save Darby” t-shirts and protested the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           assets, but there has been enormous enthusiasm from the alumni and                  “We knew that Laura would come VanSickle formed a potent outside-inside                      it is unlikely anyone else will be joining their
     With World War II well underway, Darby provided “physical court press                                                                      imminent demise of the Gym, saying it was an integral part of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           friends of the College. “Nearly six million dollars in gifts, raised in just   through with points for us, and get to the combination that led to 16 wins and took               illustrious company soon. “It is a little awk-
education resources and an assembly area for the hundreds of men           “One of the greatest moments that I remember is our first big        Grinnell experience. However, Patty Johnson looks ahead.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the previous nine months, have been announced,” Grinnell College               free throw line and get us rebounds” said the Pioneers to within three points of the              ward for me to see those retired numbers,”
on campus in the Army Specialized Training Program in 1943-44,” win against Cornell College, when they were still in the Midwestern                  “It’s just progress you know,” she said. “You can get swept up in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           President Russell Osgood said in a news release. “We continue raising          Jen Wood ‘92, Laura’s teammate.                   Midwest Conference Championship. That           said Grinnell men’s coach David Arsenault.
according to the Grinnell College website.                             Conference,” said head coach David Arseneault. “The crowd was            the emotion, but it’s just progress.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           funds and expect that board approval of this marvelous design will                  Jessica Toft ’89, third in career assists at year, Sharer led all Division III players in    “We have had so many players on the men’s
     When the Army left Darby after the war, the College and Grin- half students, half came from the community. We won on the buzzer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           generate additional gifts and enthusiasm.”                                     Grinnell, said “every time I passed it to three point shooting percentage. “Missy                 side who were equally deserving of this sta-
nell High School moved in.                                             shot, and the students rushed the floor. It was a sign of things to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       —Colin Sollitt     Laura she could put it in the basket.” played off of Laura and Laura played off of                tus.”