Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Joe Langston Gym spells trouble for Eunice foes

Eunice's Laura Clack
  Joe Langston Gym in Eunice looks like any other gym – brick on the outside, concession stand as soon as you walk in and two seperate entrances in the front to reach the actual gym.
  But as you turn the corner to enter the gym, it's quickly apparent Joe Langston Gym isn't like most gyms.
  And it's what gives the Cardinals and Lady Cardinals a great home-court advantage, something I was reminded of when I covered the Eunice volleyball team's sweep of Dora on Tuesday.
  Quickly you'll notice the yellowish green lighting. I've never been in a gym lit like this. You almost feel like you have sunglasses with yellow lenses on. It's crazy (and drives photographers nuts as well. Tough to get clear action shots).
  The low ceiling is the next thing people will notice, particularly during volleyball matches. During Tuesday's contest against Eunice, Dora repeatedly bashed their digs and passes into the ceiling. Eunice did it as well, but having practiced at this gym for hour upon hour, day after day, the Lady Cardinals know how to play the carom off the ceiling.
  Then there is the bullfighting stadium style of seating. Fans aren't seated on the same level as the court like most gyms, but instead appear right on top of you by being about eight feet off the ground. The gym isn't large, but the confined space plus the usually energetic crowd Eunice sports can be an intimidating presence. Go to a Eunice versus Jal basketball or volleyball game at Joe Langston Gym. Intense.
  The finishing touch is the wall you see just as you enter the gym. Called the Wall of Champions, there are 45 boards representing the numerous state championship teams from Eunice. Impressive.
  Add it all up and Eunice has created a fantastic home-court advantage for itself, making it almost a shame the Lady Cardinal volleyball team plays only five home matches this year.
  Football heating up
  Another exciting week of football is ahead in Lea County as Hobbs hosts Roswell, Lovington travels to play Anthony, Texas, Eunice hosts Iraan, Texas, Jal hosts NMMI and Tatum travels to play Mountainair – all on Friday.
  Check out previews, game coverage and post-game analysis in Friday, Saturday and Sunday's sports section of the News-Sun. 
  I'll be at the Hobbs game, so to get updates of the game and stats on your phone, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/HobbsSportsGuy.