Work continues on the athletic facility at Pike Road High, but one area that is virtually completed is the refurbished field house of the Patriots.
The former Georgia Washington Junior High locker room has been completely overhauled with the help of parents and community support, athletic director and head football coach Patrick Browning said.
“This was a lot of donations from a lot of parents,” Browning said. “Our superintendent and the board kicked in some, but we had a good group of parents that had the resources to get it done. I don’t know if we could have contracted it out and had it look as good as it looks. I think it’s something the community can be proud of.”
While the walkway from the field house to the football field remains unfinished, most of the areas inside the facility are completely refinished.
“We’re one day of paint, a hot water heater away and a concrete drive poured for it to be done,” Browning said. “I think by Aug. 1 (all work on the athletic facilities) will be completed.”
Those facilities include a new press box for the football stadium, a concession stand and restrooms for all facilities, a new softball field, a new baseball field and the refurbished field house.
The lockers inside the field house are the original Georgia Washington lockers, cleaned and repainted. There are 80 lockers and currently 70 are in use.
“I think this is going to be perfect for where our numbers are right now,” Browning said. “Obviously, when we start growing as a school, eventually we’ll outgrow the space. But right now, I think it’s going to be a good setup.”
Work remains on the restrooms in the field house, but the old weight room was converted to a coaches’ office for the assistants – with dry-erase boards on a wall separating the “offensive” and “defensive” sides of the room – and the weight room with new weight racks now occupies the majority of the open space.
“We had a lot of help from various groups,” Browning said. “The only thing we brought in are all the plates. And we had that rack (along the wall) from before and just painted it, but the dumbbells are new, the kettlebells are new, the racks and the bars are new.
“It’s the first rack system like this of its kind because it was custom built for the space.”
The suspension of sports in the spring by the coronavirus pandemic has left much of the lockers in their pre-coronavirus state while workouts are conducted indoors with the weight room and outdoors on the field.
“We can still teach them fundamental work, we can still lift and do speed and agility (drills), it’s just making sure we meet all the guidelines,” Browning said. “They have to bring a mask with them, they have to be social distanced, we temp check them and give them hand sanitizer when they get here. Our coaches and kids have done a great job getting used to all those procedures.
“I’m just glad the AHSAA came up with the guidelines they did so we can bring the kids in to get them safe and ready for August. We’re just glad to be back around our kids in any capacity.”
And while state-of-the-art baseball, softball and football facilities may one day require a state-of-the-art field house, Browning isn’t complaining about the new-look home of the Patriots.
“This isn’t what Thompson High has, for example, but it’s really, really good for the River Region,” Browning said, “and the functionality of it coupled with its proximity to the field is just great.”