BY JEFF FALK
Steeped in tradition and rich in history, the gymnasium at Lebanon High School is one of the most storied venues in the entire Lancaster-Lebanon League. But from time to time, even landmarks need a bit of sprucing up, – a little lift and tuck, if you will.
No, the Cedars’ basketball court will not be the subject of the next edition of Extreme Home Makeover. But yes, the rumors are true, the storied gym is having a little work done.
Rennovations of Lebanon High’s hoops floor is expected to begin in May of 2012 and should be completed by the fall of next year. And while the construction will prove to be a major inconvenience for coaches, athletes and gym classes, it shouldn’t adversely affect the scheduling of inter-scholastic events – namely boys’ and girls’ basketball games next season.
And when completed, it’s funny how quickly those inconveniences become a part of the past.
“It’s kind of like our stadium, honestly,” said Lebanon athletic director Terri Johnston. “Or like Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s a small venue for a successful program. It’s got its own kind of energy. It has an aura and history behind it. Most people will tell you that they love to play at our gym. It puts you right on the floor.”
For decades the finest boys’ and girls’ basketball players in the Lancaster-Lebanon League have traveled to the Lebanon High gymnasium to battle the likes of the Sam Bowie, Mike Bechtold and the Colettis. But the gym hasn’t endured any major rennovations since it was built in 1969.
After 42 years, it’s time. The gym’s age is showing. Wear and tear has taken its toll on the ‘Old Girl’.
“It’s tough for games,” said Johnston. “Our floor is 45 years old. It’s in desperate shape. It’s time. It can’t be stripped and refinished any more. It has to be replaced.
“The physical structure is basically going to be the same,” Johnston added. “We’re going to use the space we have better. You can’t make the circle bigger.”
In addition to a brand-new floor, the renovations will feature refurbished locker rooms which enter and exit right on to the court. The locker rooms will now contain offices for coaches and physical education teachers.
The hallways behind the court will be eliminated and the adjoining cafeteria will also receive a makeover.
“Everything’s going to be done,” said Johnston. “A new floor. The locker rooms as we know it will be gone. New bleahers. The whole cafeteria will be done. The hallway in the back is going away. You’ll be able to walk out of the locker rooms and into the gym. The lighting and sound system will be re-done.
“In my mind, I’m hoping everything will be done by the end of September,” added Johnston. “But I have no solid information to base that on. But I’ll tell you, it’ll be good when it’s finished.”
The Lebanon High School gymnasium seats about 1,200 spectators and that capacity is not expected to be affected. Unlike the new wave of field houses sweeping high school campuses, Lebanon High’s home court will remain a ‘gymnasium.’
“It’s an exciting time for us as a district,” said Johnston. “I hope our kids are excited about it, that they buy into it and embrace it.”
The new facility will have the capability to host basketball and wrestling competitions, but Johnston said that boys’ and girls’ volleyball matches will continue to be staged at Lebanon Middle School.