(Editor’s Note: Following is the fifth in a series of articles where Western Carolinian writers profile why certain athletic facilities are named after who they are.)
For most students, Reid Gymnasium means one of two things-a place to work out or the place where the requisite health & wellness class that is required of all students at Western takes place.
Reid Gymnasium, however, was built to serve more purposes than just education. In the past it served as the nerve center for many of Western Carolina athletic teams and is currently the house for some intramural teams.
Since its completion in 1956, the Paul Apperson Reid Health and Physical Education Building has welcomed students, athletes and Catamount fans. The building was named after longtime university president Dr. Paul A. Reid who served the university as president from 1949-1968.
The first basketball game in the history of Reid Gymnasium happened in December 1956. The Catamounts would use Reid as their home facility for the next thirty years, hosting all the top competition in the Southern Conference as well as some of the best basketball players in school history. The men’s basketball team played the entire thirty years, from 1956-1986, while the women’s basketball team called the gym home from the late 1960’s to 1986.
While Reid Gymnasium hosted basketball games, WCU’s Ronnie Carr made the first 3-point field goal in college basketball history on Nov. 29, 1980 versus Middle Tennessee State, a game Western won 77-70. The ball he used is on display at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The shot was made from the left corner with 16:09 left in the first half (7:06 pm). Carr actually took and missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 18:15 mark of the first half.
Not only did Reid host the Catamount basketball teams for thirty years, it also played host to the Lady Catamount volleyball team from its inception in the late 1970’s to 1986. After the 1986 basketball season, all the indoor athletic teams moved to the then brand new state of the art Ramsey Center.
Reid Gymnasium was not only used for athletic events in the past, it was also used similar to the way students today know the Ramsey Center. Reid hosted concerts, graduations, orientation and convocations.
Fulfilling its original purpose, Reid was made exclusively an educational building for all of the physical education classes in 1987. Before then, there were still a few physical education classes being held in Breese Gymnasium and those were finally moved to Reid.
Today and in the future, students at Western will likely only know Reid Gymnasium as a place where they have a required class, but the history of Reid is long and rich with the tradition of Catamount athletics.