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Cramped. Crowded. Uncomfortable.

Those were some of the words that were sometimes used to describe the old gymnasium at West York High School, especially on big game nights when large crowds would show up.

A new era has come to the school, however, with Monday's official opening of a brand new gymnasium that resides just a few feet away from the old facility.

A large crowd visited the new arena Monday night when West York played host to Gettysburg in a York-Adams League Division II boys' basketball battle, and they generally gave the new structure positive reviews.

The Bulldogs made it a successful debut with an 68-44 victory over the Warriors to secure a York-Adams League playoff berth.

“It’s open and very spacious,” West York athletic director Frank Hawkins said of the new facility, which seats approximately 1,700 fans, about twice the capacity of the old facility. “Just having the space and the ability to house all of the community members that want to come see a game is great. Tonight we probably have more people that are inquisitive about the gym than the game itself. And to be able to do it comfortably is awesome.”

The home team wasted little time in adjusting to its new digs, racing out to a 14-1 lead. The quick start gave Hawkins a chance to gauge just how loud the new facility can get when the home team is doing well.

“Well, obviously we just scored the first points,” Hawkins said, moments after a loud eruption of applause echoed in the facility. “Everything tonight has been great so far.”

The new gym will primarily be used for winter events, such as basketball and wrestling, as well as volleyball in the fall and spring. The facility was planned with much more than that in mind, however. Former West York girls’ basketball coach Jon Shultz, who is still a physical education teacher at the high school, is impressed with how versatile the facility can be.

The floor is big enough for three full basketball courts to be used simultaneously. An indoor track above the seating bowl also provides an opportunity for running, jogging and other physical activities.

“It’s a tenth of a mile,” Shultz said. “It will allow us to do things for speed and agility and plyometrics up there. It’s just a lot more room to work with. Combined with our fitness center, which is one of the nicest in the whole county, I think you can see our sports programs and our sports conditioning really improve.”

West York forward Darian McCauley will be the first of his siblings to experience the new facility, albeit for a very brief time. McCauley was recognized along with the other Bulldog seniors on Senior Night before the game, which may be his one and only game in the new gym if the team does not get to host a District 3-AAA playoff contest.

McCauley’s older sister, Savannah, played her whole career for the girls’ basketball team in the old gym. Both have very fond memories of smallish old home, but Darian could see the new facility take on some of the old gym’s characteristics.

“It will probably take a bit of an adjustment to get used to,” he said. “But I’m sure this place will begin to feel like home in no time.”

It immediately felt like home for McCauley, who notched his 1,000th career point in the contest.

Hawkins agreed that the new gym won't take long to adjust to.

“Yeah, the old gym did have a very homey feel to it,” he said. “You could have a sense of closeness and, in an intense game, it could get really loud. But as you can see (tonight), it can still get really fired up in here.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com..

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