It started with a vision and led to a plan. And two weeks ago, after the vision was accepted and the plan was finally put into place, the new athletic fieldhouse at Henry County High School was finished. The beneficiary: HCHS athletes, coaches, fans, parents and the entire community.
Now, $75,000 in donations is needed to help furnish the inside to equip it with weights, locker rooms, bathrooms and workout space. I just hope those donations begin to flow in so the athletes can take advantage of this opportunity, which those before them could only dream about.
When the fall teams at HCHS take to the courts and fields next summer, they will have a place to call home in the new fieldhouse. I envision the football players running drills and repeating plays in the 60 x 80-foot space with a turf floor, the track team performing plyometrics, the baseball and softball teams getting in batting practice in the newly-inserted batting nets, the volleyball team running sprints, and all the teams using the weights to improve performance. Throw into the mix the possibility of a full-time trainer, who might start as early as July 15, and HCHS is headed in the right direction - a direction that will only improve an already successful sports' program.
"We think this will benefit the athletic programs in many ways," HCHS athletics director Todd Gilley said Monday afternoon while walking through the newly-finished fieldhouse. "Each sport will now have a place to workout, especially in the off-season or when the weather's bad outside. Instead of getting a little done in the gym, they can get a lot done in the workout room.
"Plus, it frees up the gym," added Gilley, who also coaches the girls' basketball team. "Every sport should be able to get an advantage from this building in some way."
For those that want to get a first-hand look inside the fieldhouse, there will be an open house next Tuesday, Jan. 15. It will start at 7 p.m. and is open to the public - those that make donations and those that do not.
Players of the past - like Mike West, Mitch Winburn and Shari Price - could only think about a fieldhouse like the one completed a couple of weeks ago. But for players of today - like Hayden Yancey, Cody Hinkle and Kelsey Mings - it's a reality.
I applaud Henry County High School and all those behind the decision to go forward with a vision from 20-plus years ago. The new fieldhouse equals the right move, and it's one equation long overdue.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.