SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Tough decisions concerning school gyms

Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 04:29 PM.

Every local high school gym at a public school was built when or before Richard Nixon was president. For those of you who don't remember your history too well, Nixon was forced to resign in 1974.

Baker, Crestview, Choctaw, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill and Niceville all have gyms that are more than 40 or 45 years old. I'm sure every local coach would tell you a new gym would make their life easier.

In the past 15 years, every high school in Walton County has moved into a new gym. South Walton High School opened as a new school in 2001 or 2002. Freeport High School moved into its new building about that same time.

Walton High School got a new building about three years ago. And while Paxton School is still in the same building, less than a decade ago the Bobcats moved into a state-of-the-art high school gym.

I understand Okaloosa County can't plunk down several million dollars to build new gyms at five or six schools. And basketball isn't like baseball or football, where you can pull in temporary bleachers to compensate for extra seating needs.

Crestview is not the lazy little community it was when the high school moved to its current location more than 40 years ago. The student population has more than doubled in size, but the gym is still the same size it was when less than 1,000 students roamed the halls.

Both the Crestview girls and boys reached the region finals this year. I believe coaches Kathy Combest and Greg Watson will have their teams back in the region finals sooner than later.

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