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T. Wesley Pickel and The Pickel Field House

Last updated on December 3, 2020

Pickel Fieldhouse photo.

By Evie Shaye Herndon

The Volunteer State Community College, Pickel Field House is home to all health, athletics, and physical education-related activities and offices.

It was built in 1972 and named after T. Wesley Pickel. According to “Community Colleges of Tennessee: The Founding Years,” Pickel was the assistant commissioner of education for the state of Tennessee for eight years straight. It was Pickel who stood beside the founding president, H. R. Ramer, and State Education Commissioner, J. Howard Warf, in the initial scouting for the Vol State proper in 1969.

Richard Moore Gymnasium is inside the Pickel Field house. According to an article in the fall 2003 edition of The Pioneer written by Matthew Thompson, the Gym was dedicated to Richard more who was a charter faculty member.

“Moore spent over 40 years at the school, joining staff in 1971 as the athletic director and leading Vol State team to win 18 division titles, five regional titles, and advanced to five national tournaments,” wrote Thompson.

Also, within the Pickle building, is the J.E. and Clara Senter Lobby. According to the article in The Pioneer, the Senters were avid supporters of the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Vol State, thus they were honored with the Lobby in the Pickel Building, wrote Thompson.

The building also houses a student fitness center where students and staff can come to work out. The center has treadmills, ellipticals and weights. This is not the first workout center the school has provided, said Vol State Athletic Director, Bobby Hudson.

“Our first workout room was in the front of the building and was just a big room. We only had a multi-purpose machine with no free weights. The new space was developed in 2010 when we took two rooms and made it one big one with cardio, weight machines and free weights,” Hudson said.

Hudson has worked in the Pickel Field house for 34 years and has loved it, shared Hudson.

“It is great working in this building. Every day is different, and we have a lot of things happening during most years,” Hudson said. “We have hosted everything from Barefoot Jerry concerts to professional wrestling matches. We have hosted numerous district and regional high school basketball tournaments as well as the Vol State Christmas Tournament that had all the local high schools in it. We have had flea markets, craft fairs, TBR dinners in the gym. We also have voting in the Pickel Building.”

“Athletics has always used the Pickel Fieldhouse. We have all locker rooms in the building and indoor batting cages for baseball and softball in the upper part of the gym,” said Hudson.

The building has greatly contributed to the school’s athletic program, said Hudson.

“Facilities are vital for any program and we have one of the best. Scheduling is a big part of our building. With so many community activities going on we have to work to satisfy the need. The department has been willing to work with everyone to make sure we can meet the needs of our athletes, students as well as the community,” said Hudson.

“You know, it is rumored the famous streaker of the 1970’s used the Pickel building to make his clean getaway,” said Hudson. “Also, I repelled off the top of the gym in 1979 during one of our field days. The bad thing about that was I ripped my pants when I started down everyone got a bigger show than expected,”.

After many years in the building, Hudson shared that there are many stories he could share about his time in Pickel.

“I have spent a lot of time in this building and there are so many stories that come to mind during this interview. It is great working in this building,” said Hudson.

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