On a windy, cold, rainy afternoon, the seemingly less-than-ideal weather made for a perfect day at Harlem High School.
Harlem Athletic Director Jimmie Lewis led the dedication of the new 5,000-square-foot weight room Feb. 6.
"This is a great day in Harlem High School athletic history," Lewis said. "We've come a long way to get to this point."
Less than a year ago, the Bulldog program's "weight lifting facilities" included a three-walled room, a spare classroom and the hallway that joined them. The area totaled a little more than 800 square feet.
"We had no heat, no air and no room," Lewis said. "Now we can get 75 football players lifted in about an hour and 15 minutes."
The facilities, named The Bulldog Body Shop by Harlem coach Adam Fulford, comes with air conditioning, heat and electricity. It will be used by all Harlem sports teams and the school's weight-lifting classes. In addition to 4,000 square feet of weight-lifting space, the facility also includes an office with electricity and Internet access for Fulford, a retractable batting cage, male and female bathroom facilities and an extra multipurpose activity room for meetings, stretching and cheerleading practice.
"I've had college coaches come through here, and they say this is nicer than what they've got," Lewis said.
Although the facilities have been open to athletes since July, the Feb. 6 ceremony marked the official opening. With Harlem Mayor Scott Dean, Columbia County Superintendent of Schools Tommy Price and School Board member Roxanne Whitaker on hand, Lewis and the Harlem staff dedicated the facilities to former Harlem Booster Club President Ken Green.
The late Ken Green led the booster club from 1983-85.
"Mr. Green was a special guy," Lewis said. "He worked hard for this high school."
The entrance to the weight room bears a plaque dedicating the facilities to Green. Commissioners Lee Anderson and Ron Cross, along with former Harlem Booster Club Presidents Jimmy Tankersley and Mark Whitaker, are also honored with plaques on the wall for their work in contributing to the funding of the project, as is former state Rep. Bill Jackson, who helped acquire a state grant for the facilities.
Lewis said the project cost more than $112,000 and was paid for through alumni donations and a government grant.
All the bells and whistles for the Harlem student-athletes made for an odd transition.
"They were a little overwhelmed at first," Fulford said. "We're just now getting to the point where the kids are getting used to all the space.
Still, after almost seven months of full use, the facility looked brand new for Monday's ceremony.
"The kids have a lot of pride in this place, and Harlem High athletes."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.