Southside gets grant to repair old gym
Published 10:19 pm Monday, May 16, 2016
Three years ago, two men visited Southside High School from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. One man, Al Frederick, was a graduate of Southside in 1979. The other man, Glen Laster, had never stepped foot in the school.
When Laster saw the shape of Southside’s old gym, with old tile floor, worn down lights and trash everywhere, he cried.
“They came in, saw it and could not believe what they saw,” said Southside principal Clarence Jackson.
Although Laster’s only connection to the school at the time was Frederick, he knew something needed to be done to give Southside’s students and student athletes a better chance to succeed.
Three years later, the students at Southside are receiving that chance.
Southside’s old gym, which for the past couple decades hasn’t been in use due to its poor condition, will soon have a fully functioning weight room, locker room and gym floor thanks in part to a $10,000 donation from Point Loma Nazarene University.
“We just fell in love with Southside High, and we’re going to be here until they tell us to go home,” Laster said.
Laster and Frederick went back to San Diego and started a “Selma Strong” campaign, working with their 1,600-member student body to raise money for Southside’s facilities on the other side of the country. From “penny wars” in the dorms to encouraging students to sacrifice one $8 meal to donate to Southside, Point accomplished the goal of raising $10,000 for the high school.
The football team has already seen the money pay dividends. During the spring game, 52 players dressed for the game, which is double what Southside has had for the last two spring games. Head coach Daniel Flowers said the reason for the large increase in numbers is the renovations taking place with the facilities.
“We can actually work as a team more and have pride in ourselves,” said offensive lineman and linebacker Cordell Waller.
Southside’s field house has been the team’s hub for home games in recent years, but this upcoming season it will house the visiting team. Southside’s players will run out of the hallway from the old gym and play from the other side of the field.
The team will hold its pregame meetings in the new weight room, equipped with new floors and new equipment and lights. On the walls of the old gym, Point student April Tyler has painted the words “Selma Strong.”
Flowers said the school will feel more connected to the football team now that the players can train in a room that is attached to the school rather than being secluded in the field house.
“It should improve us a lot,” said Southside running back and defensive end Ke’Andre Rutledge. “It makes us want to work out now.”
Jackson said basketball has always been the main attraction at Southside, where the gym is shut down at 5:30 p.m. if a game starts at 7 p.m. But with all the excitement coming to the football program, Jackson isn’t so sure the football team won’t garner the same fan support this season.
The basketball gym has been referred to as the new gym and the unused space on the other side of the school has been dubbed the old gym. Flowers said he and his players are thinking that will have to change soon.
“I’m going to stop saying old gym. I’m going to start saying new gym,” Flowers said.
On Friday, Point will officially present a large $10,000 check to Southside.