The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Weight room at GMS to get a big makeover with new equipment, redesign

United Way to fund a chunk of the cost for upgrades coaches say is needed


September 12, 2018

Student athletes will benefit from a revamped weight room at the middle school according to backers.

The board of education on Monday approved an expenditure of $21,450 to revamp the weight room, which the superintendent, Shawn Arnold, said was piecemeal at best and in its current configuration, does not make the best use of space.

"I think that amount is not the amount that is likely to be spent," board member Kathy Todd said when the board discussed the proposed project, and asked the true cost of the project.

Arnold said the project's total cost is estimated at $67,000.

The district has a fund for the project, which had a balance of $45,550. This includes a grant in the amount of $18,000 from Valdez United Way.

"The $21,450 is the only amount that would come out of undesignated funds," said the budget amendment request included on the school board agenda.

Backers of the project said that the equipment currently used by students – especially high school athletes – is inadequate for core strength training needs and that the room's current design is unsafe for the use of free weights. Much of the equipment is outdated and is from the old weight room of the junior high school that was torn down to make way for the new middle school.

"It limits you on the activities you can do," said teacher Tim Burns, especially squats and deadlifts – important components of core training.

Wrestling coach Tyler Calvert-Thompson is a booster of the upgrade.

"You gain everything and you lose nothing," he told the board.

The coach said Buccaneer athletes are coming up against opponents that are training with better equipment.

Activities co-director Barb Lyons noted that some students train at the Wellness Center at Prince William Sound College, but that is not ideal.

The school district is picking up half the tab for Buccaneer athletes, but some students already have family passes, and some are unable to go at all. Athletes also lose team comradery by training on their own, and others do not receive proper training on how to use the equipment properly.

Image by manufacturer

The manufacturer's photo of one of the pieces of equipment the school district hopes to purchase for the weight room at the middle school.

"Every week I put out kids who are not prepared for what they will face," coach Lee Chadwick said regarding the superior training opponent football players receive at other schools.

The project was a hard sell to some board members.

The expenditure did pass, with nay votes coming from Todd and Jamie Winchester.

Arnold said the project could conceivably be completed this year.

Principal Rod Morrison reminded the board that at some point in the future, the district should consider moving the weight room to the high school, as the equipment is geared towards high school athletes.


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