Moore Field House: Future member of Southern’s Hall of Fame talks building of facility

Matt GadSports Writer

Long before Jerry Nelson was coaching himself to win the 2018 ECAC Coach of the Year award, and assembling and producing a fleet of successful female gymnasts and student-athletes, he was a Southern Owl. More so, he was a part of the prominent and historical men’s gymnastics legacy that has produced national championships and Olympic heroes.

Fittingly, I spoke to Nelson in the place where it all started, a small room in Pelz Gymnasium that Southern gymnasts currently uses as their home base when they are not practicing or competing in Moore Field House.

Nelson said that back in the day he and his teammates used to practice in this room. They would compete across the way, in the gym that is now home to the volleyball squad, which also held all of the campus’ NCAA-sanctioned events back then.

“It has been a fantastic journey to be here coaching, and we trained right here in this little gym in Pelz with Olympians on the team, so to go through that, and then to own my own business for 30 years, and then to come back here and work with these great athletes at my alma mater… I have pride in this university,” he said. “I competed here, I went to school here.”

During Nelson’s sophomore year, Southern was able to build a brand new facility, fitted with new training rooms, basketball court, and athletics headquarters: Moore Field House.

Nelson said one of his men’s gymnastics meets was the first event in the facility. Back in those days, men’s gymnastics was the main attraction.

“The field house changed the landscape for a lot of sports, pretty much all of them,” Nelson said. “Just the pool being better, the indoor track and on and on and on.”

Nelson said when the field house was built in the 1970s, the men’s team officially moved their headquarters to Moore Field House for practices and training, and Pelz became the center for the women’s gymnastics facility.

Nelson said they also had a competitive team back then. But back in that era, it was not just about hard work under legendary Southern head coach Abie Grossfeld.

National championships were won, and Nelson said that the 1975 and 1976 teams will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in May.

Nelson said he already has a large part in the induction, just because of where he is in his current role.

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