Frankfort Athletic Boosters, volunteers give gym a makeover
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - Since basketball playoff action concluded for both the Falcon boys and girls on March 5 and March 6, outside of some physical education activity until the school was shuttered to students, the Frankfort gymnasium, sometimes referred to as “The Nest,” has been devoid of sports activity.
No bouncing of balls, no shooting of balls, no serving of balls, no spiking of balls, no kicking of balls; when it comes to sports, no audible signs of activity could be detected.
But if one listened closely in and around the Frankfort gym, a buzzing sound, the calling card of worker bees sprung into action, could be detected. There’s been the buzzing sound of teachers, the vice principal, the principal, alumni and a current student hard at work with paint rollers and brushes. The sound of construction crews buzzing, the sound of a local graphic artist buzzing, and the sound of fundraising worker bees, gathering necessary funds could be heard as well.
All this buzzing activity is the direct result of an extensive remodeling and freshening up of the Frankfort High school gymnasium, a large-scale project funded almost in its entirely by the Frankfort Athletic Booster Club. Though a few already budgeted school and county funds were involved in terms of regular upkeep of facilities, the investment expended by the Frankfort Athletic Boosters tallies a jaw-dropping $140,000.00.
The biggest expense and project associated with the gym remodeling was the removal, and subsequent replacement, of the original bleachers from 1976. In addition, the gym has seen the extensive application of over 1,600 square feet of decorative wall wrap by local Short Gap business Benson Designs. In preparation for the wall wrap, a complete repainting of all walls, stairwells and railings and a portion of the gym floor was conducted by volunteer labor.
That volunteer labor consisted of teachers Scott Slider, Craig Scott, Kenn Cowgill, Tim Haines, Kevin Whiteman, Jay Hesse and Cam Spence. In addition, principal Joe Riley and vice and future principal Orie Pancione participated, as did Peyton Slider and Seth Leedom.
Beyond the new bleachers, application of decorative wall wrap and extensive repainting, issues with the many baskets and winches associated with said baskets were addressed. The finishing touch soon to come is the installation of video monitors to replace physical fundraising signage and to provide information.
Again, the total price expended by the Frankfort Athletic Booster Club is approximately $140,000.00. Current but outgoing Booster Club president Melissa Clark takes great pride in the work the Boosters and volunteer labor were able to accomplish, working together.
“The reality is this is a project everyone played a part in. The bleachers were bad. They needed replaced. Outside of the school and stadium, the most used facility at FHS is the gym. It needed help. We made it happen,” Clark expressed. “This was done the old-fashioned Frankfort way - together
“It’s actually quite bittersweet for me,” Clark added. “I’m wrapping up my nearly 11 years of Booster Club work and this is my youngest son Jake’s senior year. We won’t get to enjoy it as long as others. I just hope Jake gets to play in it. But it will be fantastic for future generations.”
According to Clark, “I absolutely love it. Every time I look at the gym now it makes me smile. It is like a completely renovated gym and so beautiful. There is so much pride that goes into the work we all do together.”
Frankfort athletic director Jay Hesse details the specifics in terms of man-hours involved with the project, and the passion displayed by those who participated.
“I would say there is somewhere around 250 man-hours total. Everybody was a big help. Craig (Scott) was our man on the lift, painting clear to the ceiling. Scott Slider stepped up, putting in work. He takes a lot of pride in the gym. He has been the driving force behind repainting the floor every year, he got that from Bill Cessna. That is a big reason that our floor looks as good as it does after 45 years,” Hesse explained.
An article a few years back by Bob Parasiliti of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail detailed what it was like for opponents to play football against Fort Hill at Cumberland’s Greenway Avenue Stadium. In it, Parasiliti stated, “But there is a more visceral part of playing Fort Hill in the environment that is Greenway Avenue Stadium. The venerable home field, just off the back of the school, doubles as a football torture chamber.”
It’s not football, it’s not Cumberland, and it’s not Fort Hill. It is, however, boy’s and girls’ basketball, volleyball and wrestling. It is, however, Short Gap, and Frankfort High School. A look back at Frankfort’s fall and winter sports in the 2019-2020 season show that the gym at Frankfort might also be dubbed a “torture chamber” for opponents.
Consider this. Last season, Frankfort’s boys posted a 20-4 overall record in basketball, going 11-1 at home for an 88 percent success rate in Short Gap. Frankfort’s girls posted an overall record of 23-2, going 10-2 at home for an 83 percent success rate at home, with those two losses being to the last two West Virginia class AA state champions, one in overtime. Frankfort’s volleyball team posted a 7-1 overall home record last season, going 24-5 in set play, for a home success rate of 88 and 83 percent respectively. Frankfort’s wrestling team enjoyed success at home as well.
While a trip to Frankfort’s gym to take on the Falcons is generally a tough, losing effort for opponents, for home -standing Falcon fans, it’s an experience well worth the price of admission.
As Frankfort fans take their seats in the gymnasium this next time, whenever that may be, what is normally a positive experience will be taken to new heights. More comfortable seats for an aching bum, check. A spruced up paint job everywhere and new, large, and extensive graphics on the walls, check. New video monitors to relay information and display advertising, check. Everything in working order, check.
All this made possible by a tremendous financial outlay by the Frankfort Athletic Booster Club, funds that ultimately came from a tremendous amount of hard work through fundraising efforts. All this made possible by passionate teachers and administrators and such who volunteered their time, efforts and talents. It’s a project that will pay dividends for generations, and one the folks at Frankfort can take great pride in.