Do you know who your high school football stadium is named after?
Or the gym?
Or the school itself?
If not, don’t worry because Gym has all the answers – or more specifically “Who is Gym?” a new book focused on telling the fascinating stories about the names behind Arizona’s high schools and their sports venues.
Written by Arizona native and 30-year high school football and baseball official Scott Hanson, “Who is Gym?” is the result of three years of research and interviews with Arizona’s high school athletic directors, administrators, alumni, librarians, local historians, long-time school employees, relatives of those honored, the honorees themselves and others who may have known the people whose names adorn the buildings and fields across Arizona.
“The idea for the book started three years ago on a Friday night at Cactus High School as my football crew was preparing to officiate the school’s varsity football game. The field was named M.L. Huber Stadium. Not familiar with Huber, I asked a couple people at the school who he was. To my surprise, they didn’t know who Huber was either,” says Hanson. “Then a week later, our football crew was at Independence High School and I asked about the story behind their Tolmachoff Stadium. I got the same answer. It was then that I was motivated to action.”
His first action – a conversation with Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble on the topic.
“We got to talking, and Marshall was quick to point out there was no one place where all of this history lived. No collection. No official records,” says Hanson. “He told me right then and there I should take it upon myself to create a record and collection for our state. Those were powerful words.”
Once the book was in process, Hanson turned back to Trimble, this time for more than just advice – to ask Trimble to write the official foreword, which Trimble happily provided.
A passage from his foreword:
Among my fondest memories growing up in northern Arizona during the 1950s is playing high school sports in a small town along Route 66. Ash Fork was one of the smallest schools in the conference that included Williams, Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook, Snowflake, St. Johns, Round Valley and a host of others. We were the Spartans. I like to think we were well-named because like the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, we were always outnumbered. Unlike the original Spartans, we lived on to fight and lose again and again. We got beat so often our cheerleaders were trained as grief counselors. If lessons are to be learned in defeat, we got a dang good education….
Arizona has changed a lot since the 1950s but I take great comfort in knowing that one thing has remained constant; from the Nogales Apaches to the Fredonia Lynx and the Kingman Bulldogs to the Round Valley Elks, the mascots are forever. Long live ‘um.
Scott has gathered a plethora of stories and historical information about Arizona’s high school gyms and ball fields. This is a book I’m sure you’ll all enjoy.
“Who is Gym?” is available for purchase now for $19.95, plus shipping and handling. For more information – or to purchase your copy today – please visit whoisgym.com.
About the Author
After officiating high school football and baseball in Arizona for nearly 30 years, it occurred to Scott Hanson that there was a piece of Arizona history that was slipping away: the who and the why high schools, their football stadiums, baseball fields and gymnasiums were named.
In addition to his role officiating high school sports across the state, Hanson is the president of HMA Public Relations, a 35-year-old marketing communications firm based in Phoenix. He’s a former Arizona sports broadcaster at both KNAZ-TV in Flagstaff and KPHO-TV in Phoenix. He is a member of Valley Leadership Class XX and serves as the professional advisor for Northern Arizona University’s Public Relations Student Society chapter. Hanson sits on the board of directors for Junior Achievement of Arizona and served for more than a decade on the board for The Arthritis Foundation’s Greater Southwest Chapter. He also served on the board for the NAU School of Communication and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Phoenix Chapter. In 2012, Hanson was both inducted into the Rocky Mountain Emmy Silver Circle Society for his dedication to the broadcast community in the region and honored with the Public Relations Society of America Phoenix Chapter’s Percy Award for his dedication to the advancement of the public relations field across the state.
Hanson, an Arizona native, is an alumnus of Washington High School and Northern Arizona University, respectively.