SHABBONA – The gymnasium at Indian Creek High School is getting a much-needed face lift this summer. Along with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, the Timberwolves volleyball and basketball teams will play on a brand new floor while surrounded by updated bleachers in the 2013-14 season.
“The floor just couldn't be sanded down and refinished anymore,” said Indian Creek athletic director Ehren Mertz. “There was a lot of good history on that floor, but over the past couple years some boards were cracked and had to be replaced. It had the potential to be dangerous for the athletes.”
In the spring of 2012, the district began talks to replace the bleachers. The seating, along with the court itself, came with the gym that was built in 1954. However, during the summer it was discussed that it may be a logical idea to replace both the floor and bleachers at once.
“The project was very much needed, as it was the original floor,” said Indian Creek District #425 Superintendent Dr. Pamela Rockwood, who also noted that the bid for the work was at $265,674. “The gymnasium, when you look at it as a whole will be much different when finished, but very cool.
"We started talking about getting new bleachers in April of 2012 and received a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education this past August 1st. We've done a very good job with money and were able to use funds out of the school's maintenance operating fund to cover the rest."
Mertz says he hopes to post the progress of the work via pictures on the IC T-Wolves Facebook page. He said that the tearing down part of the project went pretty smoothly, but the workers back in 1954 built the floor to last the test of time.
“We started the project the day after graduation, on May 20th,” Mertz said. “The old bleachers were removed first, then the floor. ... We had to bring in a Bobcat with forks to get some of the 2x4 sleeper boards out of the old cement base. It took about two-and-a-half weeks to complete the removal process.”
The T-wolves are set to begin practices this fall on August 14. Mertz says there are many factors that will determine the exact completion date, but a big one will be humidity. The cement will need to be completely set before the new floor can be brought in and installed. He also said that the new floor will have less paint on it to show off the wood grain.
The bleachers will be black, with “ICHS” in red across them and, although the gym will lose around 100 seats due to the upgrade, it will feature much-needed railings in each section to help fans reach their seats safer.
“(The floor) is going to look really good and it should have a little bit of a spring to it,” Mertz said. “The bleachers are state of the art and I think will be more comfortable for the fans.”
One person that will use the new floor this winter, but may not need the extra boost, will be 6-foot-9 Garrison Govig, senior center for the boys basketball team. Govig said he never really gave the floor's condition much thought other than the occasional creaky sounds, but is excited to see the finished product.
“I never really noticed anything, just a few squeaks here and there,” Govig said. “It's always nice to get new things, although the new floor won't help us win games. It will be neat to finally see finished and then get to play on it.”