NORTH ROBINSON – If there is one thing the Robert “Mac” Morrison Gymnasium at Colonel Crawford High School is known for, it is that the temperature will rise during a big basketball game.
The Mac was dedicated to Robert “Mac” Morrison in 1981. Morrison was a teacher, coach and administrator in Crawford County schools for 36 years. He is also a member of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Morrison began his coaching career at Mt. Zion High School, where he spent seven years as basketball coach that included the 1953-54 Crawford County Basketball Championship season. He then moved on the Leesville High School for six years before taking command at North Robinson High School and Colonel Crawford High School for 10 years. In 1969, he took the job as junior high principal.
His 19-year coaching career saw him gather 326 wins and just 94 losses. He was also the coach of the very first Colonel Crawford football team that ended the season with an 8-2 record. He also spend time on the baseball diamond coaching for 15 years. He finished his coaching career with five Crawford County championships in total.
In 1981, Colonel Crawford dedicated its gymnasium to Morrison and the arena is now known as The Mac. On any given night, Colonel Crawford fans can walk in and work up a sweat cheering on the Eagles.
“The Mac is a special place because of the fans being so close to the playing surface and the atmosphere of a small gymnasium,” said Colonel Crawford Athletic Director and boys basketball coach David Sheldon. “Every night, the heat in our gym is like no other place because of the swimming pool being attached. Our community is unbelievable in their support from the Eagles Nest student section, The Front Row Crew and the rest of the community filling the gym on a nightly basis.”
Fans get an up close and personal experience when watching an Eagles basketball game. None more than Front Row Crew members Jim Leonhardt, Gary Schwartz, Mick McCallister and Brent Stine just to name a few. But the most heat is generated during rivalry games.
“The most memorable games are probably every night we have a Crawford County rival school in the gym,” Sheldon said. “With closeness of each Crawford County school and the fan followings, it makes for an incredible atmosphere.”
The Eagles have seen their fair share of talent come through The Mac. From Austin Smith, Connor McCreary and Kent Volkmer to Jake Hessey and Todd Entenmann, all of whom have scored 1,000 career points, many of those in the Mac.
The Mac has also housed six of Colonel Crawford’s seven 20-win season including last season’s 23-win total, a school record.
But the boys are not the only teams to have success. The girls have had their fair share of stellar guards come though The Mac. And some pretty successful teams as well. The 1999 and 2000 Colonel Crawford Lady Eagles made back-to-back trips to the Final Four.
“I have experienced many great moments in Mac Morrison gymnasium,” girls coach Kyle Fenner said. “I have had an opportunity to coach four All-Ohio guards in Janel Swinehart, Nicole Tomecko, Alicia Kuhn and Karli Volkmer. I was very blessed to watch each of them play many games on the floor. I watched Janel Swinehart, who is Colonel Crawford’s all-time leading scorer, score her 1,000th point there. I have also won five (North Central Conference) Championships there.”
The Mac is more than just a basketball mecca. It is a place that brings the community together. It also helps build team bonding during some traditional activities.
“However, Mac Morrison gymnasium is also more than just a gym,” Fenner said. “We opened many of our seasons with a Midnight Madness practice. After practice we would bring our blow up mattresses and sleep in the gym.”
So, next time you are thinking about visiting The Mac for a hoops game, remember to dress light – it is about to get really hot in there.