Members of the Johnson City Commission, Johnson City Schools Board of Education and Science Hill High School staff prepare to break ground at the site of the school's proposed athletic training facility. (Photos by Tony Casey/Johnson City Press)
Saturday’s athletic facility groundbreaking that occurred next to Kermit Tipton Stadium sets the bar high for Science Hill football teams and athletic programs.
Many organizers, donors, city and county officials, athletes and supporters of athletics were in attendance for the event that kicked off the construction of a training facility that would complete what the school’s athletic director, Keith Turner, called “one of the best complexes in the entire United States.”
The design that comes in at around $2.1 million for the 14,000-square-foot building is expected to be ready for the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, not coincidentally just before the start of the school’s main attraction: Friday night Hilltoppers football games. With the construction will come new dressing facilities for the football players, coaches’ offices, medical space, video rooms and a sizeable weight and physical training room that will be made available to all of the school’s students and student-athletes.
But with such first-class facilities will come high expectations of the athletes who train there, those who spoke at the celebration said.
Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin was one of the first to make a donation to the project and made his expectations of the athletic facility clear.
“This is for the development of football teams that can consistently fight for state championships,” he said.
With that, city and school officials who helped to make the project go from conversation to construction, in the mayor’s words, were recognized for their efforts.
“(University of South Carolina football coach and SHHS alumnus) Steve Spurrier kicked off our effort by saying that a first-class athletic program begins with first-class facilities. We will now have that total package with a great Kermit Tipton Stadium, new basketball facility, and finally, a training facility,” said fundraising committee chairman Tony Treadway.
“I want to thank our donors, such as Coach Spurrier, Coty Jones and Jeff Bedard, as well as our elected officials and the members of our fundraising committee. Also, thanks to C.B. Kinch, who did so much to gain support for funding from the Washington County Commission and County Mayor Dan Eldridge, as well as members of the Kermit Tipton Scholarship Fund Committee and Tim Colvin, of the Topper Gridiron Club. Without their hard work and support, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Football team members, along with student-athletes from other sports including soccer and cheerleading surrounded the speaking portion of the groundbreaking before nearly 20 people who were involved with bringing the project together dug into the earth will golden shovels in a ceremonial display.
Looking around, City Manager Pete Peterson joked that they had enough people with shovels at the groundbreaking to “stick around a few hours and finish it up.”
Bedard, parent of a student-athlete at Science Hill, announced that there would be a contest taking place where members of the community could submit the name that they think best represents the new training facility. The Hilltopper athletes and others will review naming entries and pick the winner, which will be announced at the home opener against Morristown West on Sept. 12.
The winner, he said, will receive a Hilltopper VIP package that includes season tickets, a game ball autographed by Hilltopper athletes and a VIP tour of the new training facility before the 2015 football season. Bedard said that entries should not be someone’s name, but more about success and hard work.
Entries can be sent to Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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