New BHS boasts upgraded sports facilities

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When it came time to draw up plans for the new Bainbridge High School, academics came first, but student athletes and extracurricular activities were far from being overlooked.

The new school has a number of exciting features for those students who compete outside of the classroom. Whether it be pumping up the crowd as a member of the marching band on a Friday night, or rounding the bases for the Lady Bearcats softball team, the majority of high school sports complexes have been upgraded.

The new school is equipped with facilities that are better suited for who they serve, said BHS Principal Tommie Howell. The school has two band rooms, one for the marching band and another for the concert band, and a chorus room—which are a considerable upgrade from the converted gym they are currently using at the old high school.

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The Air Force Junior ROTC cadets will move from their current room, which is a converted band room, to their new facility, which has enough room for all the cadets to meet at once for training.

Bearcats basketball games will move from the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum, built in 1987, to a larger gymnasium at the new campus. The gymnasium includes a full court and two half-sized basketball courts. There is also an indoor jogging track and practice space for the competition cheerleading squad and wrestling team. Currently, competition cheerleaders and wrestlers practice at a local elementary school gym.

The gymnasium has the capacity to hold 2,500 spectators, as opposed to the Coliseum’s capacity of 1,800.

An impressive feature to the gym is a hospitality room that overlooks the courts from the gym’s second floor. It will host booster clubs, the media and visiting officials from other schools. The room can also be used as a classroom, said Decatur County Schools Superintendent Ralph Jones. The gym also has separate locker rooms for basketball players and physical education (PE) classes.

Head of Maintenance and Construction Jerry Mills explained the gymnasium was also designed to serve the school and community as a shelter in the case of natural disaster. It is equipped with emergency generators that can provide heat and hot water, said Mills.

An impressive feature of the new BHS campus is its baseball and softball complex that includes four fields—a practice field and playing field for both baseball and softball.

Principal Howell said it is a crucial step for the school because it provides female athletes with equal facilities as the male athletes. He explained that the girls’ softball team, which has been playing at Bill Reynolds Sports Park, will now have their own field on campus.

Both game fields are equipped with dressing room that connects directly to the Bearcats’ dugouts. In the center of the four fields is a two-story building where concessions will be sold and restroom facilities located on the ground floor. The second floor is a meeting room for teams and scorekeepers. Clay taken from the property the school is located on was used to create the playing fields.

Although football games will continue to be played at Centennial Field for now, the new BHS campus has two football practice fields that will allow practices to take place on school grounds.

Superintendent Jones said one of the fields could serve as the location of the BHS football game field in the future. The practice fields will also be used for the BHS soccer teams to practice and hold matches, according to Howell. There is a field house located adjacent to the practice fields that will serve as the weight room, male and female locker rooms and several coaches’ offices.

The new BHS also has a rubber outdoor running track with bleachers for spectators. Mills said there is also a restroom and equipment room located outside the gym for track and field activities so there will be no need to open the gymnasium during events.

There will also be 10 tennis courts located at the front of the campus, allowing for the full boys and girls tennis teams to play at the same time. The teams, which include three singles teams and two doubles, currently practice at the Carole Simpson Floyd tennis courts near the old Bainbridge High School.

The sports facilities at the new school allow for consolidation and better supervision of students involved in extracurricular activities that are currently spread out across Bainbridge, explained Howell.

The only sporting activities that will not take place on campus are football games, which will continue to be held at Centennial Field; the BHS swim team, which will continue to practice at the YMCA pool; and the BHS golf team, which will continue to practice at the Bainbridge Country Club, according to Howell.