Big Mac: The history of Maclellan Gymnasium

Maclellan Gymnasium during the second quarter as the women’s basketball team took on UCF in the 2017 home opener on Nov. 13, 2017. (Photo by Cade Deakin)

By Chris King, Sports Editor —

From packed crowds to Southern Conference Championships, historic Maclellan Gymnasium has left an everlasting mark on UTC’s campus over the course of the last 56 years.

Maclellan Gym is named after Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Maclellan. Mr. Maclellan was a member of the Chattanooga Board of Trustees from 1935 until his death in 1956. Built in 1961, Maclellan Gym used to be UTC’s only athletic gymnasium before the university added McKenzie Arena in 1982. Prior to McKenzie Arena, Maclellan housed all men’s and women’s home basketball games, all home wrestling matches and all home volleyball matches. On top of home events, Maclellan also housed all practices for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and volleyball.

Mike Royster, UTC’s assistant athletics director for facilities and equipment, recalls when Maclellan Gym was used for four sports and housed all offices for the entire athletic department before McKenzie Arena was built.

“Maclellan was used all day long, every day,” said Royster about Maclellan’s busy schedule. “We had less trouble scheduling, when everyone was in one building, then we do now with separate facilities. Everyone knew that we were cramped so we had to sit down and work as a team to come up with a schedule that worked for each team’s schedule.”

Royster has served over 40 years at UTC as he first worked as director of athletic equipment for 26 years. In 2000, Royster was promoted to his current title of assistant athletics director for facilities and equipment. Prior to working at UTC, Royster graduated from UTC in 1977 with a degree in Elementary Education. Royster noted that Maclellan Gym used to bring in so many fans that they had to sometimes turn people down for a sporting event.

“You really got the feel of it when Maclellan was packed, we were having to turn away people,” said Royster about a packed Maclellan crowd. “It was a feeling that you just don’t get in a big arena.”

Mark Guhne, UTC’s men’s golf head coach, graduated in 1984 from UTC. During his time as a student at UTC, Guhne was a member of the wrestling team so he had the opportunity to spend countless hours in Maclellan Gymnasium. Guhne recalls that there was something special about watching a wrestling match in Maclellan.

“When you watch wrestling at Maclellan, you feel like you’re on the mat. You’re right up in the action and see everything that is going on,” said Guhne. “When you’re sitting on the bottom bleachers at Maclellan, you can hear the coaches talking to the players and it makes you feel like you’re part of the game.”

The maximum capacity at Maclellan Gym reaches 4,177 for basketball and volleyball contests and 2,639 for wrestling matches. Before the university added McKenzie Arena in 1982, men’s and women’s basketball hosted all home games at Maclellan. Guhne noted that attending basketball games in Maclellan made the fans feel like fans together which made the sporting event more enjoyable for everyone involved.

“When we would go to a basketball game, we were so jam packed together,” said Guhne. “You would see the same people there all the time and you would start cheering together. You would become fans together.”

Maclellan Gym currently features offices and classrooms for the Health and Human Performance department. The gym features a main court, auxiliary court, weight room, aerobic equipment area and swimming and diving pool. Maclellan also includes locker rooms for the UTC volleyball team and houses a wrestling practice gym. Maclellan is also used for various intramural sports and campus recreation activities throughout the semester.

Wrestling and volleyball are the only two UTC athletic programs that still regularly compete in Maclellan. On special occasions, women’s or men’s basketball may host a game in Maclellan. Most recently, the women’s basketball team hosted UCF for the 2017 home opener on Nov. 13. This was the first time that the women’s team had played in Maclellan since Feb. 8, 2014. Guhne noted that he would love to see more basketball games played at Maclellan Gym.

“I would love to see the men’s and women’s teams play a couple of games at Maclellan every year,” said Guhne. “There were a lot of neat memories at Maclellan and we had some great basketball teams that played in that gym.”

Maclellan Gymnaisum has been “Home of the Mocs” since it was built in 1961. Men’s and women’s basketball moved from Maclellan to McKenzie when the Roundhouse was built in 1982. (Photo by Cade Deakin)

UTC Athletics while competing in Maclellan Gym:

Men’s Basketball (1961-1982)- Division II Tournament appearance in 1961, 1973, 1975, 1976 and a 1977 Division II National Championship. Division I Tournament appearance in 1981 and 1982.

Women’s Basketball (1974-1982)- First season in 1974-75. Grace Keith was head coach and the Mocs went 21-23 from 1974-1976. Sharon Fanning-Otto took over in 1976 and coached until 1987. The Mocs compiled a 193-131 overall record under Fanning-Otto and a 93-55 record from 1976 until the Mocs moved to McKenzie Arena in 1982.

Wrestling (1961-2017)- The UTC wrestling program began competing in 1947 but the program joined Division II when the NCAA started the new division in 1963, just two years after Maclellan was built. The program qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships as a team from 1972-1977. The Mocs moved to Division 1 and the Southern Conference in 1978. Since joining the SoCon, the Mocs have dominated the conference with 28 conference tournament titles and 13 regular season titles (only awarded since 1992). There have been 11 different head coaches lead the UTC wrestling program in Maclellan Gymnasium.

Volleyball (1983-2017)- The volleyball program started in 1983. Since 1983, the Mocs have won three SoCon Regular Season titles in 1998, 1999 and 2015. The volleyball program has posted four SoCon Tournament titles in 1987, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Chris King

Chris King

Sports Editor

Chris is a Hendersonville native that was named the Sports Editor in April 2017 after being the Assistant Sports Editor since January 2016. Chris enjoys watching and learning more about various different sports, especially football and basketball. He plans to graduate in spring of 2018 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Promotion.

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