South gym gets makeover

LANDIS — South Rowan’s gym floor has gotten a serious facelift this summer and is so shiny after that major makeover that you may not recognize it.

If that floor could talk, it could tell some tales.


About that very first South boys basketball team in 1961-62 that included a guy named Bob Parker.

About that first powerhouse boys team in 1966 that tied for the conference championship.

About that racehorse bunch in 1976, led by James Allen, that put 108 points on the scoreboard in 32 mad minutes against South Iredell.

About Larry Lentz, the boys program’s only 1,000-point scorer. About pros Carlos Dixon and Damien Argrett.

About streaky Doug Daugherty, who poured in 75 points in two games against Northwest Cabarrus.

About that night Andrew Morgan dribbled behind his back and scooped in a lefty layup over a West Forsyth Titan named Chris Paul.

Some history has been made on that floor by South’s wrestlers and by the volleyball-spiking, cheerleading and basketball-shooting females as well. Beth Miller, Wanda Watkins, Tracy Connor, Jill Cress and Janetta Heggins all filled it up on the same floor that Avery Locklear operates on now.

“It’s still that original floor,” explained South AD Angie Chrismon, whose father Larry Deal played on the floor as well as coached on it. “We didn’t know if there was enough of the floor left to sand it down one more time and repaint it and refinish it, but the floor was still stable. We know this probably is the last time we’ll be able to do this, but it’s wonderful that we could get it done.”

South’s gym has been quiet since school ended in order to give workmen a chance to perform their magic. They got started June 10 and finished before the Fourth of July holiday. The gym was reopened for basketball workouts on Monday of this week.

The gym facelift was a Rowan County project.

“I’ve been at South seven years, and the floor has really needed this since I’ve been here,” assistant principal Barry West said. “This project has been on the books several years, but this is an era of diminished funds, and we didn’t know if it would ever happen. But then we got a call that they were ready to do it, and they did a great job. They sanded everything down to the bare wood. They got all the old paint off, and they put down two coats of finish.”

Some new lines that weren’t present earlier have been painted. Those are for workout agility stations and for crosscourt volleyball for coach Jan Dowling’s practices and Junior Olympic tournaments.

All the basketball lines were carefully remeasured as they were repainted, and West made a couple of startling discoveries.

Players have been launching 3-pointers from 20 feet, instead of the standard 19 feet, 9 inches, in the South gym for many years. Players also have been shooting free throws from 15 feet, 3 inches instead of the required 15 feet.

“We measured the lines exactly,” West said. “All the lines are perfect now.”

Basketball head coaches Bryan Withers and Jarrod Smith will be delighted to hear that. Now 3-pointers will be a little easier for Locklear. Qwan Rhyne and Shawn Spry.

Special care went into stenciling the traditional block “S” at center court of the gym. West said that painstaking task alone required over four hours.

“That was an adventure,” West said. “But it was very important to us to get that logo just right.”

For Chrismon, a South graduate whose family is closely tied to the school and its athletic programs, the block ‘S” is an important touch.

“Our alumni will like that traditional ‘S’,” Chrismon said. “Athletics are all about tradition, school pride and school spirit. It looks so good that I’m just really excited about it, and I know our athletes and supporters will be excited.”

The seats fans will occupy will still be the original bleachers from long ago, but they’ll be watching games on a floor with a modern glow.

“People are asking me what those white spots are in the pictures I’ve been emailing, and that’s light reflecting off that beautiful floor,” West said. “I think it looks tremendous. This is an asset. This is something our school and our students can all take pride in.”

Chrismon said the timing for the makeover couldn’t be better, with South returning to the South Piedmont Conference and taking on a 2013-14 schedule that will include a steady diet of old Cabarrus rivals Central, Northwest and Concord, plus new ones in Hickory Ridge and Cox Mill.

“It’s like we’re going back to our roots,” Chrismon said. “Everyone is excited about Rowan and Cabarrus schools playing each other in a conference again.”

The flashy floor won’t win any games by itself, but with an upgraded facility comes more confidence and more energy.

Every Raider should have a little more spring in his (or her) step this fall and winter.





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