New home and visitor bleachers were installed at Dale Welsh Gymnasium, replacing the old wood bleachers that had been there since 1973.
The bleacher installation is the latest in an ongoing project to renovate the gym.
“Three years ago we got lights. Two years ago we painted. Last year, we got scoreboards, and this year, we get bleachers,” Spring Garden principal Mike Welsh said. “By next year, we want to finish our dressing rooms. We’re extremely excited.”
Welsh said he and several community members were a little sentimental to see the old bleachers go, but they know the changes are for the best.
“I think we’ve got a lot of people who hated to see the old bleachers go, because that was part of us,” he said. “When you walked in our gym, we had those old-style wood bleachers, but everybody’s excited with the new ones. They knew it was time.”
Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said his players couldn’t wait to play in front of the new additions. Until Wednesday’s 58-19 boys victory over Southeastern of Remlap, Austin said the Panthers hadn’t played on their home floor since hosting Woodland on Dec. 10.
Austin also said the Panthers held their practices at the old gym while the installation of the new bleachers was going on.
“We had people sticking their head in the gym all day (Wednesday) wanting to see the new bleachers,” Austin said. “People couldn’t wait to get in here to see the change.
“It’s a good change. It’s a lot safer situation we have now. It adds something to this gym. It’s starting to get a little old and ragged, but the bleachers have brought a lot of life back to it. We hope it gives the program a shot of energy. I know the kids were awfully excited when they walked in here and couldn’t wait to play.”
Austin also noted a new weight room and two visitor locker rooms at the gym should be completed by the end of March.
Austin said the school is “very thankful” for what the Cherokee County Board of Education has done to help remodel their gym.
“Mr. (Brian) Johnson (former superintendent) wanted to go forward with that. He’s made sure to follow through on everything he’s told us, and we’re very thankful for it. (New superintendent) Mr. (Mitchell) Guice seems to want to carry it on and finish it the right way. We’re very proud of what they’ve given us. It’s nice to have a big change like this. We’re very excited about it.”
Spring Garden’s next home game is scheduled for Jan. 22 when the varsity girls and boys host Coosa Christian beginning at 5 p.m.
Former Cherokee County High School basketball standout Leah Monteith Goss is spearheading an effort to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Lady Warriors’ back-to-back state championship teams.
Cherokee County defeated Haleyville 58-51 in 1992 and Buckhorn 66-58 in 1993 to earn back-to-back Class 4A basketball crowns.
Monteith Goss said plans are to recognize the members of both squads at halftime of the current girls’ varsity game on Jan. 25 against Glencoe.
“I just wanted to get the word out,” Monteith Goss said. “Last year was our 20-year reunion of our 1992 team, our first state championship. I think there was a little bit of a talk about getting a reunion together, but I don’t think anything was ever put together.
“This year, with it being the 20th year of the 1993 team, I thought it would be the perfect time for the girls to get together and to reminisce. We’ve invited all the girls from both teams. We’re going to have a little reception for the teams and their families after we recognize them.”
Current head coach Travis Barnes said the timing of honoring those championship teams couldn’t be better. The current Lady Warriors are 14-4 and are hoping to make a serious run at a state championship themselves.
“Every day at practice, the pictures of those championship teams are hanging right there in our gym, and our girls look at them and they see the success those teams have had,” Barnes said. “They’ve kind of paved the way for our program. Hopefully we’re carrying on a little bit of tradition. We haven’t won any state championships like they did but I think overall our program is pretty successful.”
For more information on the anniversary celebration, please contact Monteith Goss at (256) 499-1100.