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Blue Jays' nest gets a refresh

Generous donors have provided Goldfarb Gym a much-needed makeover, from new baskets to brilliant video boards
Posted December 13, 2016

When you ask members of the Hopkins community about Goldfarb Gym, "home" is a word that comes up often. Since 1934, Goldfarb has hosted thousands of Blue Jay student-athletes, coaches, and fans — but also generations of students who needed a place to blow off steam in the days before fitness centers with TVs on every treadmill.

Ethan Leder, a University and Medicine trustee and a Krieger School alumnus and board member, classifies himself in the latter category. But even his nostalgia-tinted lenses couldn't mask the fact that, after more than 80 years of service, Hopkins' gym needed a makeover. When Blue Jays Unlimited announced its campaign to modernize the old gymnasium, Leder stepped up with a donation and encouraged his friends and fellow alumni to follow suit. Thanks to generous support, Goldfarb's transformation is nearly complete, including two new scoreboards, a video board, a new gym floor, and large windows to bring natural light into the space.

Goldfarb Gym's renovation still needs your support — make a gift to Blue Jays Unlimited today

"We wanted to improve the spectator experience and encourage more people to come see our basketball, volleyball, and wrestling teams, but we didn't want to take away Goldfarb's character," says Leder, who also made a donation to improve Hopkins' student-athlete lounge. "You can make an old gym absolutely beautiful — just look at Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. And Hopkins has done a great job doing that here, with Goldfarb."

Read on as Leder, Hopkins men's basketball coach Bill Nelson, and senior Blue Jay volleyball player Ally Hirsch share their favorite memories of Goldfarb and how its renovation has impacted their Hopkins experiences.

Where lifelong friendships were forged

The 1982 Hopkins Hullabaloo highlighted students in Goldfarb enjoying a pickup basketball game.

On the first day I arrived at Hopkins in 1980, the first thing I did after I dropped my stuff off in my dorm room was grab my basketball gear and go to Goldfarb Gym.

On that first day, I met guys who would become my best friends — Bob Clayton, A&S '84, Brian Crotty, A&S '84, Matt O'Mahony, A&S '84, Andy Schoenfeld, A&S '84, Glen Wall, A&S '84, Bob Wilson, A&S '84, Ken Ross, A&S '82, Tom Tessitore, Engr '82, Pat Owen, A&S '82, Millard Tydings, A&S '80, and more. We stayed close for 21 years, until Sept. 11, 2001, took Matt and Glen away from us.

When we started coming back for the Wall-O'Mahony game every year, we realized right away that, from the spectator perspective, Goldfarb needed some work. So I reached out to those best friends and basically said, 'Let's do this.' And they had no issue whatsoever supporting this project. Back in the day, Goldfarb was the place where everything happened for us, and we want to see that continue for the Hopkins students, community, and alumni. So many of my favorite memories are in that old gym.

Ethan Leder

Elevating the home-court advantage

Blue Jay forward Danny Nawrocki celebrates with fans during the 2007 Division III Championship’s first round.

Everyone loves playing at home, but we've really established an advantage. We've had a 25-game winning streak in here, and all-time, we've won about 70 percent of our home games in my career.

Our court in Goldfarb is unlike anything in our league. It only seats about 1,000 or so people, but they're right there on the floor. It's a factor other teams have to account for.

As great as that's been from a competitive standpoint, though, our gym has never had a 'wow' factor — until now. We're one of only a few Division III schools with a video board like ours, and that's important for our fans, our recruits, and it even impresses our opposing players.

The new floor and scoreboards have elevated the experience for our fans, a lot of whom have many great memories here. Goldfarb might be just basketball, wrestling, and volleyball to some people, but it's one of the main reasons I'm still here, 30-plus years later. This building, the best things about it, are the memories.

Bill Nelson

"If I could, I'd sleep there!"

I've always loved how unbelievably homey Goldfarb feels, but I didn't really notice how dark it was until I saw what the new windows did to the building. The natural light just completely opens the entire gym. During preseason this year, we were able to have a morning practice without turning a single light on that's how bright it is now.

Ally Hirsch (left, #17) rises up to make a Blue Jays block during a home match.

The brightness and other upgrades to the gym have made an impact, and you can see it in the number of fans who are coming to our games and how engaged they are when they're here. That affects our team and how well we play.

Goldfarb is, really, our home. If I could, I'd sleep there! After I graduate in May and I think back to my time at Hopkins, I'll think about Goldfarb first my teammates, how hard we worked together, and what we were able to achieve in that gym.

Ally Hirsch, Class of 2017

Join Leder and dozens of Hopkins alumni and friends — make a gift today to support the Goldfarb Gym capital project.

For more information,
contact Grant Kelly, director of development for Blue Jays Unlimited.