New Mission boys' basketball coach Cory McCarthy recently noticed a black scuff mark on the school’s gleaming new basketball floor with the Titans logo on it. But before McCarthy could wipe the smudge from the first basketball court the program has called its own in its 10-year history, a student got to it first.
“He got on the ground on his hands and knees and wiped the stuff off the ground,” McCarthy recalled. “That’s a major, major steppingstone. Now you know kids honor this place and believe what it’s about and feel fortunate about it.”
After playing in the Tobin Community Center for most of the program's history, New Mission will play in the renovated Hyde Park Education Complex starting this winter. The school moved from its Mission Hill building this fall.
The Titans' boys' team will christen the gym against Burke at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12. The girls' squad hosts CASH at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 14.
McCarthy said the new facility was a reward, so to speak, from the school district for all the school's success.
“Make no mistake about this, some of this move from Mission Hill had to do with us getting a gym,” said McCarthy, who led the girls’ team to a state title in 2007 and won back-to-back boys’ state championships in 2010 and '11. “Having this makes us proud.
“Thanks to the city for honoring us, rewarding us and helping us grow.”
Besides a new floor, rims, and lights, the gym also has a weight room attached to it.
And the Titans logo is painted everywhere.
While there are aspects of the Tobin that McCarthy says he’ll miss, including the fact that it played a big part in the Titans’ scrappy underdog identity, McCarthy will not miss having to fight for practice time with the Tobin's other programs, not to mention the fact that they never had closed practices.
“At any given moment you could walk in there and there’s kids in there,” McCarthy said. “Last year we used to practice and have the boys and girls practice at the same time. And we had three girls' teams and two boys' teams. In any given day during a two-and-a-half hour span we had five teams in there.
“It’s hard to prepare with that. This helps preparation, team morale, pride. We have the big Titans symbol at half court.”
McCarthy is expecting his team to have a huge home-court advantage.
The gym has been out of commission since the former Hyde Park High became Community Academy for Science and Health (CASH) and moved to the Cleveland School building in Dorchester in 2011.
“It’s a heck of a big deal when you have to use someone else’s gym versus your own gym,” Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson said. “You are going to be able to practice in it every day and get in it on weekends. Tobin was their gym and they were used to playing there but now they have their own gym that they can put banners up and have that home-court feel and flavor and ambiance.
“There’s nothing like having your own gym and that’s definitely going to give them an advantage.”
McCarthy wants to make his new gym feel like a college atmosphere, complete with students bouncing in the bleachers until the home team scores its first point.
McCarthy, who is also the athletic director, talks a lot about changing the culture of the school. But it’s much more than talk. The school also started a football team this fall and in the spring it will have its own baseball team for the first time.
“Your legacy will forever live here,” McCarthy said. “Although we’ve been successful in the past we started a new tradition.”
And nobody is taking care of that tradition more than students who are starting it.
McCarthy said on the day that the rims were installed a group of students grabbed brooms and started sweeping up the mess left by the work crew.
“I’m not telling kids to do this stuff,” McCarthy said. “This is kids having pride.”
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