The next time the West Hall High School football team takes the field for a game on its Oakwood campus, its players will emerge from a new field house.
The field house, which is being built as an addition to the school’s gym, has a projected end date of July 2017, which should allow plenty of time before football season kicks off.
Construction on the project began March 13, said Matt Cox, director of facilities and construction for Hall County Schools.
Extending the existing gym will allow for a multi-purpose classroom, a locker room for the football team and two locker rooms for physical education classes and extra-curricular activities.
The new space will be approximately 9,670 square feet, Cox said.
The existing field house will be used for visiting teams.
“We needed the (new) field house due to the growth of several athletic programs,” West Hall High Principal Scott Justus said. “The design of our current field house was a building that was made out of two separate buildings joined together ... Our board and (Superintendent Will) Schofield saw the need as well. We appreciate them for their support of our school and community.”
Justus said he’s excited for the addition to be in place.
“We have been wanting to get this for our students for some time. The design is amazing, and we can't wait to see the end result. The beautification alone is going to be wonderful,” Justus said.
Tony Lotti, West Hall head football coach, is also excited for the addition, but he said there’s another word he’d use.
“To be honest, a better way to describe our feeling is one of being very, very thankful,” Lotti said.
Lotti said the classrooms would be used for mandatory study halls, tutoring sessions and character education classes for football players. The facility will also have a training room for rehabilitating injuries, office space and storage space.
He said the school never really had a field house, but just two buildings that were built around the time the school was opened in 1988.
“During the 1990s, the areas were closed off on each end to give the appearance of being one continual building,” Lotti said. “The two small buildings were utilized by both the middle school and high school program and simply cannot handle the daily workload required to serve our students’ academic and athletic needs.”
Part of the construction required demolition of the school’s tennis courts. Justus said the school has a partnership with the Bobby Bailey Tennis Center at Alberta Banks Park, which is less than five minutes away from West Hall High.
He said transportation was a “non-issue” since the school drop students off at Alberta Banks Park by bus when school ends.