Facility to be “stellar complement” to Kermit Tipton Stadium
By Scott Robertson
Photos by Chris Robertson
With uniformed athletes from every fall sport standing in the audience, Johnson City education officials broke ground Saturday for the new $2.1 million Science Hill High School field house. The field house, said Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin, a charter member of the fund-raising committee, “will be the absolute stellar complement to (Steve Spurrier Field at Kermit Tipton Stadium), the wonderful facility that we currently have.”
“With us today are many who have made a financial commitment to this, and have made this a possibility,” Van Brocklin continued. “The presence of all of you in the crowd indicates to me how important every one of you feel this project to be.”
The athletes and coaches in attendance heard a distinct message from the dignitaries who spoke: To whom much is given, much is expected in return.
“May this now-finished-out athletic complex serve as the focal point for the development of football teams that consistently compete for state championships,” said Van Brocklin. “Keith (Turner, athletic director), Stacy (Carter, football coach), members of the football team, Science Hill High School and Liberty Bell students, this is for you.”
“You folks are the reason we do this,” echoed Pete Peterson, city manager.
And while the pressure to consistently compete for state titles will fall on the coaches and student-athletes, the pressure to fund the project beyond construction of the building itself will fall on the community.
“There are still other things that need to occur with this project to finish it out properly,” said Van Brocklin. “We do certainly have additional need for covering debt service. We have very definite need to equip this facility properly for our student athletes and for the other students at Liberty Bell and Science Hill.”
Tony Treadway, fundraising chair, took up that call, quoting Science Hill alumnus and current University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier. “He said, ‘First class facilities are important if you want to have a first class athletic program,’” Treadway said. “That was the inspiration behind our entire effort.”
Treadway also quoted one of Science Hill’s current coaches, who said, “This field house is a lot more than just strength and conditioning. For a lot of students at Science Hill it is a second home. It’s a home where they find love, it’s a home where they find inspiration, and they get a lot of lessons in life.”
The field house will include 13,000 square feet of locker room space, training rooms, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and a weight room. “There’s no doubt,” said Turner, “this will be one of the best complexes in the entire United States.”