Illinois High School and University Share Gym | Athletic Business

Illinois High School and University Share Gym

High school and college athletics are overlapping in Kenney Gym in Urbana, Illinois.

The building, located on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is home to the Illinois gymnastics teams as well as to University High School athletics, as reported by The Daily Illini.

Kenney was built in 1902 as the “Men’s New Gymnasium,” then became the “Men’s Old Gym” until the Board of Trustees named it after Harold Eugene Kenney – a former Illinois wrestler – in 1974.

Kenney, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, has long been home to University High School, a five-year school located less than a half-mile from the Illini Union. A 0.3-mile walk down Springfield Avenue, the high school has held physical education classes in Kenney since the 1970s. University High’s athletic office is also located in Kenney, while the Illineks play basketball and volleyball games in the gym, which also features a weight room and swimming pool.

But the crossover with the Illini typically comes with physical education. The classes and Illinois gymnastics practices are able to coexist thanks to a track perched atop the gymnastics floor. University High’s gym classes utilize the track while Illini gymnasts are getting work done.

Doug Mynatt, who has taught physical education at University High for 25 years, told The Daily Illini that the system typically works smoothly for both parties.

“We share the space, but not really the same space,” Mynatt said, noting he frequently attends Illinois’ gymnastics meets. “You know, we’re on the track, they’re down there.”

The familiarity of the longtime partnership allows the Illini gymnasts to get their work done with little interruption.

“Now, I don’t really notice them,” Illinois senior Karen Howell told The Daily Illini. “I think it was good to have them here to (feel) like I was in front of a crowd already.

“We kind of know what they have to do now. They’re really nice. They’re not really distracting at all.” 

“We’re doing our own thing, they’re doing their own thing,” Illinois head coach Nadalie Walsh added. “We’re just trying to function at the same time, simultaneously, in the same space.”

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