WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – For more than 50 years students at Warren JFK have left their blood, sweat, and tears on the hardwood at Gillen Gymnasium. Unfortunately, that’s not all that’s left its mark.
Over the years, water worked its way in through roof and door leaks, leaving the floor buckled and unplayable this past season.
“We definitely noticed over the last year and a half we had a lot more leg, ankle and knee injuries,” says Warren JFK head coach Mark Komlanc. “And the bounce to the floor just isn’t what it would typically be. They say it’s supposed to be at 50 percent bounce, and we were right around 11 percent.”
So, the Eagles were forced to play every basketball game on the road this past season, while the school started fundraising for a major renovation.
They removed the bleachers and ripped out every panel of the old floor. They even invited the senior class in to leave their mark. Each was given a can of white spray paint to add their names to the foundation before the new hardwood arrives.
“It’s sad to see it go but at the same time, we’ve talked about with our team the myth of the bald eagle,” says Komlanc. “It gets to its midlife crisis, goes and hides for a couple of months, rejuvenates itself and rebuilds its whole body. It plucks its feathers off, bashes its beak in, and then comes out like a brand new eagle. It’s the same one, but it’s just redone and updated itself. That’s the way I look at this process. It has everything to do with the tradition in the past that built it, and we want to rejuvenate it and do the alumni proud.”
Kennedy will play on the brand new floor this year with their signature ‘K’ at center court. They’ll have new bleachers, a freshly painted ceiling and walls, and even buzzer-beater lights added to the backboards. It’s a project cost that exceeds $200,000. Money well spent for a program that’s grown accustomed to winning.
“To say that updating the facilities is a result of their success is not the truth,” says Komlanc. “We’re updating the facilities because we want to see Kennedy be great. Having these things updated is just a result of the love and the pride that the people in the program have for the school and the future of it.”