GHS making do with facilities

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 1, 2003

The crown jewel of Greenville High Schools athletic facilities is its gymnasium.

Besides the topnofnthenline hardcourt within the multinmillion dollar facility, the school relies on city and county facilities to accommodate the needs of its athletic teams.

"Of course, we have an excellent facility for basketball because we're in a new $17 million facility that has a nice gymnasium," GHS Principal Kathy Murphy said. "As for the building itself, it's great."

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Greenville's football team plays at Tiger Stadium, which is a county operated facility. Murphy said there are several areas at the stadium that could use attention.

"We would certainly like to see some work done to our stadium, not only in terms of increasing the seating capacity, but also in terms of restroom facilities, and possibly even having a dressing area at the stadium for both the home team and guests," Murphy said. "We would love to see some improvements to the stadium."

The restrooms on the home side of the stadium are very small and outdated. The fixtures in the men's room are less than desirable and can only serve a small number of individuals. The women's restroom is in a little bit better shape, but still doesn't offer a pleasant atmosphere.

The visitor's side restrooms are in better shape, but are still too small.

"We need to do something with our bathrooms at the stadium," GHS Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Alvin Briggs said. "They're quite old, there's no doubt about that. We also need to update the press box some. There's a lot that needs to be done and hopefully we can get it done. It's got a lot of history behind it; it's been there for years."

The stadium press box and concession stand serve the purposes intended, but could use some new fixtures as well. Murphy said the concession areas are "adequate and meet the needs."

"Everything could do with a little face lift," Murphy said. "A little paint and a little renovating would go a long way."

The facility needing the most attention is the old field house. The ceiling is rotting away and the toilets are not suitable for use. The lockers are simple, wooden cubicles and the heating and air conditioning units are outdated. Also, a foul odor lingers throughout the entire facility. Many of the other areas inside are blocked off for safety purposes.

As a result of the inadequate restroom facilities, Greenville football players have to relieve themselves in the kudzu in the east end zone. Also, in the event of cold weather or rain, the home team relinquishes the facility at halftime to the visiting team as a gesture of good will. They in turn have to meet on school buses, putting the home team at a distinct disadvantage.

Players on the high school team do not dress in the locker room and arrive already dressed on game days. Greenville Middle School players, who dress out in the field house, have been known to bring towels to stand on while changing because of the condition of the floor.

Each season, a handful of athletic boosters and supporters of Greenville's program spend a lot of time and put forth a lot of effort to maintain the stadium, but the needs are greater than just cleaning and painting.

"The Athletic Boosters Club does a great deal of work on the stadium, and I do appreciate them for doing that," Murphy said. "As they take note of things that need to be taken care of and repaired, they get on them. We certainly try not to leave any unsafe things out there that would be a liability for us. I have gone over on occasion and looked at the facility and made suggestions for things that need to be improved, or things that the Greenville High School general fund needed to try to take care of."

Another problem with the stadium is the seating capacity. The home side seats a relatively large amount of fans, but the visitor's stands don't seat nearly as many. If the Alabama High School Athletic Association was to enforce the minimum seating requirements for playoff games, it could cost Greenville a home game during the postseason.

"It would be nice to have a stadium on campus," Briggs said. "There's nothing wrong with the current stadium, except for a need for some improvements. Everybody would like to have a facility on campus. You have to learn to adjust, overcome and adapt to what you have. You have to make the best of what you do have."

The football team practices on a field on the school's campus, which Murphy believes "meets the teams basic needs".

"The practice facility needs some work," Briggs said. "It's not even the accurate size for a football field. It's not a 100 yards long, 10 yards in the end zones, nor is it 55 yards wide. Sure, we need adequate practice facilities for all sports, not just football."

The school's baseball, softball and tennis teams use the Greenville Parks and Recreations facilities, which limits practice times because of sharing the fields with other teams. Using these facilities poses a risk because the athletes have to transport themselves to the facilities for practice.

"Most of the kids can transport themselves," Murphy said. "Would it be more ideal to have all that available to us on our campus? Of course it would, but you're also talking about repeating facilities in the same small community. We're certainly appreciative of the fact that the Parks and Recreation allows us to use the fields and tennis courts."

Briggs said having facilities on campus would be ideal, but is aware of the state's budget woes. He said having the facilities would serve many purposes.

"The ultimate would to have practice and playing facilities for all our sports on campus," Briggs said. "Having tennis courts, which could be used also by the physical education classes; softball and baseball fields, which also would be practice facilities for both venues; and having adequate practice facilities for football, and having storage and locker rooms."