Ellwood Christian basketball gym receives facelift

Published 7:57 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

 An Ellwood Christian player dunks the ball during a practice Tuesday on the Eagles’ new gymnasium floor.  --Alaina Denean Deshazo

An Ellwood Christian player dunks the ball during a practice Tuesday on the Eagles’ new gymnasium floor.
–Alaina Denean Deshazo

By Justin Fedich | The Selma Times-Journal

The basketball players and coaches of Ellwood Christian Academy light up when they talk about their new gymnasium. The gym, complete with a new floor, roof and painted scoreboard, lights up too.

As basketball season starts up, Ellwood Christian’s gym looks much brighter than it did just a few months ago. A lighter-colored floor and new lights illuminate a gym that had been much darker in previous seasons.

Email newsletter signup

Ellwood boys’ basketball coach Darrell Walker said the new gym has brought a renewed energy to a basketball program itching to make the most of its season.

“This is monumental for our school,” Walker said. “Basically, this is the biggest thing to happen to our school since the opening of our school.”

The project cost $60,000, but it was a change Walker and the players said was necessary to make. Last season, the gym experienced flooding due to the worn out roof and the poor condition of the floor.

As water seeped into the sidelines, the players would have to be careful to avoid the puddles.

Now, the players can’t wait to get their feet wet with a true home-court advantage.

“The flooding caused a lot of damage to the floor, a lot of materials getting messed up,” said Ellwood senior Chris Caldwell. “I think the new floor will play a major part in our success.”

The Eagles’ roster is filled with seniors who want to make the playoffs after missing out last season. Caldwell said the new court sets the stage for the Ellwood seniors to “go out with a bang.”

The boys’ team isn’t the only Ellwood program expecting to benefit from the shiny new gym floor. Ellwood girls’ basketball head coach James Spears said the floor should help his team put last season in the past and move forward toward a brighter future.

“The kids are excited about playing on this floor, and we got the gym looking good and everything. A change in atmosphere may bring a whole change in the way they play,” Spears said.

Walker said the new floor already changed the basketball program before the season started. More players than ever before came to tryout for the team, and for the first time, Ellwood had to cut players after tryouts.

Players and coaches also believe the new gym will encourage more fans to come out and support their Eagles. Caldwell said the gym won’t only help Ellwood find success this season, but in many seasons to come after he graduates.

“I do think it will help us in the long run with our athletic program,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell’s teammate, Achilles Rutledge spent a few seconds pondering what he thought about the new gym Monday during practice. He took a step back, looked around, shined a huge grin and put it short and sweet.

“I think it’s perfect,” Rutledge said.

Ellwood opens its season at R.C. Hatch Friday at 5 p.m. The Eagles play their home opener Nov. 20 against Calhoun.