My freshman year I lived at Slivka Residential College located on the north end campus. One day during Welcome Week, one of my suitemates asked me, “Wanna play some basketball at Patten?” In the moment, all I could think about was that I had no idea where the building was or why I had never heard of it before. What I found was a tiny, ivy-lined gym with copper statues outside and dimmed lighting that is quite a bit “vintage” compared to our state-of-the-art Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Ever since I stepped into the gym for a pickup game of basketball freshman year, Patten gymnasium has been my go-to spot to unwind and de-stress.
While the original building has been demolished (it used to be at the site of the Technological Institute), the present-day Patten Gymnasium was constructed in 1940. It currently houses the Intramural Sports program, and provides offices and locker rooms for the women’s lacrosse, field hockey, fencing, and men’s/women’s soccer teams. The building is named after James A. Patten, former Evanston mayor, philanthropist, commodities broker and board of trustees president. For me, exercise has been the greatest solution to reduce stress since a young age. In high school, I was a two-sport varsity athlete who was always used to the same routine; I woke up at 5 am for practice, went to school, stayed after school for afternoon practice and then went home. A sign in our fieldhouse read: “Eat. Sleep. Train.” Hence, once I came to campus I knew that I wanted to keep myself busy while staying in shape. During my time at Northwestern, I have met up with friends at Patten to play basketball, lift weights, and participate in intramural sports. One of my favorite memories at at the gym was an intense basketball game one Saturday morning with alumni from my fraternity playing against the undergraduate members. Working out at Patten allows me to tune out academic, social, and family issues, while just focusing on myself and my fitness goals. The equipment in Patten features iron plates and unvarnished machines. Instead of walking into a gym filled with hundreds of people like Henry Crown, only about a dozen “regulars” show up to complete their workout and leave. This simplistic environment is where I can thrive and where I can be myself. While some consider this gym to be “outdated” and suggest that it should be torn down, I consider it to be an example of a true “diamond in the rough” of our Evanston campus.
–Daniel San Gambino