When ten-year-old Dave Gavitt began shooting hoops in the Recreation Hall at Union Congregational Church during the 1950s, the Basketball Hall of Fame was still a dream.1 The organization wasn’t incorporated until 1959, the year Dave graduated from Dartmouth College as a rising basketball star.2 Forty seven years later, the Peterborough High School graduate was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2006. This honor was bestowed upon him in recognition of his roles as coach and athletic director at Providence College in Providence, RI; the first commissioner of the Big East Conference; and as a member of the committee which created the 1992 Olympic Basketball "Dream Team."3
So what’s the story behind his success? Natural ability, hard work, and mentors from an early age. Coach Gavitt got his start playing basketball as one of "Milt's Tigers", a team of ten to thirteen-year old Peterborough boys coached by Milton Fontaine, then owner of the Peterboro Diner where Gavitt worked as a part-time dishwasher and cook. Milt’s Tigers usually played a preliminary game at the Town House before the Peterborough Legion squad home games. There Walter “Pete” Peterson, future governor of New Hampshire and star basketball player himself, spotted Dave Gavitt’s talent and helped steer him to his alma mater, Dartmouth College.4
Peterborough has a reputation for winning basketball championships dating back to the 1930s and 40s.5 Who will be the next Peterborough athlete to follow Dave Gavitt into the Basketball Hall of Fame?
1 Our Changing Town: Peterborough 1939-1989, Vol II, pages76-77.
2 “History of The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” http://www.hoophall.com/history/. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
3 “Dave Gavitt,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Gavitt. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
4 Our Changing Town: Peterborough 1939-1989, Vol I, pages 572-573.
5 History of Peterborough New Hampshire, 1954, Vol I, page 603.