The University of Alabama Center for Public Television is collecting stories from local athletes and sports fans in cities across Alabama for a traveling Smithsonian exhibition. Participants share their stories in a recording booth known as The Box.

Mike Goodson takes a seat in The Box to share his story at the Gadsden Public Library as Preston Sullivan closes the curtain.

Mike Goodson takes a seat in The Box to share his story at the Gadsden Public Library as Preston Sullivan closes the curtain.

“It’s similar to a photo booth, and is equipped with high-tech video and sound recorders and offers a private setting,” explains Craig Scott of Gadsden Public Library, host site for the first of six planned recording sessions.

Once the stories are recorded, they will become part of “Hometown Teams,” a Smithsonian Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition.

With light snow and freezing temperatures in Gadsden, participants came and waited for their turn in The Box. Some were longtime coaches who shared stories about how sports created relationships that last a lifetime. Others were players who found encouragement and inspiration in their sport experiences. The stories gathered will be taken back to the university and edited.

Wendy Reed (R) preps James Burgess to share his story in The Box.

Wendy Reed (R) preps James Burgess to share his story in The Box.

The edited video will be played during a “Hometown Teams” exhibition in each city and also preserved for posterity in each city’s library archive.

No part of American culture so colorfully and passionately celebrates American ideals as does sports.

Our love of sports begins in our hometowns. We play them on ball fields and sandlots, on courts and on ice, in parks and playgrounds, even in the street. From pick-up games to organized leagues, millions of Americans of all ages play sports. Win or lose, we yearn to compete and play another day.

Hometown sports are more than just games — they shape our lives and unite us and celebrate who we are as Americans.

Deandre Clifton shared his story in The Box at the Gadsden Public Library.

Deandre Clifton shared his story in The Box at the Gadsden Public Library.

Gadsden is one of six cities in Alabama hosting “Hometown Teams,” and is the kickoff site. The exhibition dates are:

  • Gadsden – Gadsden Public Library: March 4 – April 18
  • Haleyville – Venue TBD: April 20 – June 7
  • Brewton – Venue TBD: June 10 – July 24
  • Anniston – Public Library of Anniston and Calhoun County: July 30 – September 4
  • Livingston – University of West Alabama Center for the Study of the Black Belt: September 14 – October 31
  • Enterprise – Enterprise Public Library: November 2 – December 11

The Box will visit each city several weeks prior to the exhibition date to collect stories and allow time for editing materials for the exhibition.

The tour is made possible through a partnership of the Smithsonian and the Alabama Humanities Foundation with key support from Alabama Power Foundation, AAA Cooper Transport and Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.

Written by Max