Gym project at NH nearing completion
The sound of nail-guns firing to put the pieces together on the hardwood floor filled the air last week at North Harrison’s soon-to-be-opened auxiliary gymnasium.
In a little more than a month, the next sounds will be bouncing basketballs as the season ramps up for junior high and high school programs on the North Harrison campus in Ramsey.
Located at the far western part of the campus, the auxiliary gym features three full-sized courts and is connected to the North Harrison Middle School gymnasium. When players and patrons enter the doors to the facility, there will be a commons area which features concessions and restrooms.
Turning left and through the doors to the new auxiliary gym, bright LED lights shine on the project which is nearing completion.
‘When we started the middle school project, the main topic that came up was gym space,’ Dr. Lance Richards, North Harrison’s school superintendent, said. ‘We are excited. In our board meetings, the community asked about gym space, and the board at that time made a commitment to get it done. This a great honor to the commitment.’
Two of the three courts feature a traditional hardwood floor. Les Smith, project manager for Shireman Construction, said the floating floor is ‘as good as there is.’
‘It’s a good playing surface that’s not right on the concrete,’ Smith added.
When the gym opens the door to the youth in the school system, North Harrison High School athletic director Hal Pearson said more courts will lead to more practice time options.
‘The main thing is trying to get all of our junior high kids in the gym after school,’ Pearson said.
In the winter, the junior high fields seventh- and eighth-grade girls’ and boys’ basketball teams.
‘It may not always work out perfectly, but, right now, all the coaches in our junior high basketball level can be here from 3:30 to 5:30,’ Pearson said. ‘If all the kids can practice in those times, it frees our gym space up.’
Richards sees it as a benefit to parents as well. Multiple trips to the school can be cut to hopefully one for many.
‘Practices can let out at 5, 5:30 so parents can pick their kids up on their way home from work,’ Richards said. ‘They can get home and have family time. With that said, there is a greater demand for gym space … we now have youth archery, dance team, band, winter guard, drum line, wrestling. People think a gym is just for basketball, but they have become multi-use facilities.’
There are 10 retractable basketball backboards inside the facility with two courts featuring four goals (two are placed near mid-court). Drop-down curtains can divide the courts. The six main goals can be lowered to eight feet as well.
‘Youth programs, instead of running all day long on a Saturday, you can come have six teams play at the same time,’ Pearson said. ‘You could use eight if you include the middle school gym. Biddy Ball, you can use a lot more rims and get things done in less time.’
When certain community events non-sports related use the main gym, the high school programs can shift practices to the auxiliary gym.
Blue wireless LED scoreboards are fitted to the walls. The gray and Cougars blue paint scheme ties the aesthetically pleasing facility together. One thing administrators picked up on while visiting other similar projects was figuring out a way to hide support columns.
‘We made sure our columns were on the exterior of the building,’ Richards said.
The exterior columns also are concealed by a brick finish.
‘The interior, except on the end, all the columns are on the outside to give us more room on the inside,’ Richards said. ‘It’s safer too.’
The third court will feature a rubberized surface.
‘The far court could be used for winter guard and band,’ Pearson said. ‘They can throw batons and, if it falls on the rubberized court, it won’t do as much damage. There is a chance we could have wrestling down here some. Wrestling is going to stay where it is in the middle school, but, when we get bleachers in here, we could put some of their matches in this gym.’
Tennis nets will be installed on the rubber court as well, while volleyball posts can be fitted to the two hardwood floors. There will be a two-lane walking/running track surrounding the courts.
Use will continue in the spring as well.
‘If there is a rainy day, you have baseball, softball, tennis and those outdoor sports looking for a place to go,’ Pearson said. ‘Now we can have more open gyms on those days. Track athletes can use the lanes in the gym instead of running the hallways. There is probably a way the golf team could get in work in the gym too. We have hitting mats and nets they can utilize.’
An audio system and bleachers are expected to arrive in the spring. There are small details too which could prove beneficial. A rolling garage-type door is located on the backside of the facility, designed to allow easy drop offs and unloading if events like After Prom take place inside.
The middle school gym also received a face lift with the installation of LED scoreboards and new safety padding along the walls.
Parking has increased on campus as well. Tennis spectators will park in front of the gym and take a sidewalk to the courts located behind the gym. More spots are located behind the middle school, set to be used by the softball program.
Richards said one question he hears often is why wasn’t the new facility built behind the high school?
‘From a mechanical standpoint, it would need to have its own chiller, own boiler and other mechanical things,’ Richards said. ‘Here, the AC system was able to tie into the current infrastructure of the middle school. We had to add capacity in the middle school. It was more cost effective.’
The project is expected to be completed by December.