Oak Ridge High unveiled its exciting new athletic additions Monday, underscoring the school’s vision to be a premiere high school in California.
The $4 million athletic renovation to its gym, weight and wrestling rooms are just one component of that larger goal.
“To be ‘the best in class’ there are four pillars of excellence we need to achieve: academic, athletic, programmatic and staff,” said Trojan Principal Paul Burke, who delivered the presentation to the community at Monday’s Campaign for Excellence Celebration.
As the Oak Ridge choir sang the National Anthem in the newly renovated gym, the “oohs” and “aahs” rang out when the new drop-down American flag descended from the rafters.
Burke thanked taxpayers for the Measure Q funds, which financed the bulk of the project, as well as district leadership for allocating the funds. He introduced superintendent Chris Hoffman, his predecessor Steve Wehr, the Oak Ridge High School Foundation Board of Directors, ORHS Athletic Director Steve White, as well as others he saw as instrumental in making the renovation occur, and ahead of schedule by a month.
The ORHS Foundation helped raise more than $400,000 for the project, covering the cost of amenities.
Spectator capacity has doubled from 800 to 1,600 for sporting events. With its new expanded bleachers, the entire student body (2,400) may now attend pep rallies and special assemblies at the same time, said ORHS Foundation Secretary Phil Peacock. The wall bumped out so a third section of bleachers could be added will be the designated student section during home games, Peacock added.
“Now we just need to name it,” he said. “It’s going to be intimidating for the other team when they see all those students right there sitting just behind the basket.”
The gym’s court is now tournament/collegiate size and can fit three volleyball courts at one time. Additionally, there’s a new state-of-the-art scoreboard with video screen for playbacks and special announcements, which students can train in via multimedia electives; overhead is a tournament wrestling mat hoist.
El Dorado Hills resident Carey Thompson owns Clarity AVL, the company that installed a new sound system and projector for watching movies and Power Point presentations.
“It makes it more than a gym,” she said.
The renovated gym also boasts a new visitor entrance/lobby, new upper deck congregation area to watch games/tournaments and a new Trojan Walk of Fame — brick walkway.
The small gym used for physical educational classes and sports practices also received a new parquet floor, fresh paint and protective mats along the walls.
Besides several employees having to work to the sound of jackhammers for six months, Principal Burke gave special thanks to the girls’ volleyball team for the inconvenience during the reconstruction. “They had ‘home’ games at rival Ponderosa’s gym,” he said to applause. “They were real troopers about it and we owe them a tremendous thank you for their flexibility and understanding. I’d also like to thank Lisa Garrett, Principal of Ponderosa High School and David Roth, Superintendent of the Buckeye School District, for allowing us the use of the Ponderosa gym and several of the Buckeye School District facilities. Their generosity made all the difference in the world for us as we worked to schedule practices and games.”
Expanded from its original 500 square feet to 5,000, White called it “The Taj Mahal of wrestling rooms.”
“To have one entire building designated for our wrestling program is almost unbelievable,” said Burke of the 50-by-100 foot facility.
Trojan wrestling head coach Casey Rhyan echoed that statement when he added, “We are very lucky. If you go around the state you’d see this is unique. For one thing we have our own room devoted exclusively to wrestling and it’s a really nice size. Some college campuses don’t even have their own wrestling rooms of this caliber.”
The room is nearly complete except for padded mats that creep up the wall. “We’ll cut the mats, but we’re waiting a bit because they’ll continue to shrink up to a year,” he said.
The Division I team stands at 40 wrestlers, but Rhyan said it could grow to 55 now that football is over. “Last year we were limited to 35 wrestlers due to space,” he said. “We won’t have to make cuts and no one will have to sit on the bench.”
“It’s huge! Last year we were banging into each other,” Junior Patrick Irwin said.
Senior Sherman McVay isn’t sad the wrestling room was built just as he’s in his last season, but proud to say he’s from its first graduating class. “It’s really nice we have our own ‘Big Boy Corner’ and buffer mats,” he said. “And I don’t need a tank a gas a week to go to practice.”
This season’s practices were held at Urban Sprawl in the Business Park until last week. Of the grappling, Mixed Martial Arts business, Rhyan said, “They did a great job helping us out. I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”
Also known as the Trojan Performance Center, it’s an impressive 2,200 square feet. Where there used to be four weight racks, today the facility boasts 16 weight lifting stations, making it bigger than Sac State’s weight room.
“There’s also a 60-percent increase in floor space, but 100-percent increase in workable strength and conditioning stations,” Peacock said.
The weight room can now support new freshmen health and fitness classes as well as the ability to have full teams perform strength and conditioning programs at the same time in one room.
“For instance, the entire football team could perform the same exercise at the same time, whereas they used to workout in parts and couldn’t even be in the same room,” said Peacock.
It was announced during last Monday’s presentation they are looking to hire a professional sports and conditioning trainer who would staff the weight room and support all of the school’d P.E. classes and sports teams.
21st Century High School
“These new facilities are truly something our community can be proud of,” said Burke. “What is even more exciting is that these facilities are just one step in our very exciting vision for Oak Ridge in the 21st Century.”
Besides amenities for the gym and other sports facilities, Burke noted the foundation also purchased more than 80 tablets computers for student use, adding, “The foundation has been a tremendous support to the programs, students and staff at Oak Ridge.”
The Oak Ridge High School Foundation is reaching out to the community for more support, currently holding a Buy a Brick campaign. Individuals wanting to donate and have an engraved brick added to the Walk of Fame can download an order from the foundation website, orhsfoundation.com. Two sizes are available: 4×8 for $100 or 8×8 for $150.
“With the expansion of the gymnasium/assembly building, the foundation saw an opportunity to let the Oak Ridge community leave their personal mark on campus,” said Peacock. “The Trojan Walk of Fame has been established to allow individuals or businesses to purchase an engraved brick to be permanently installed in the walkways leading up the entrances to the gym. Nearly 400 engraved bricks are targeted to be installed in this walkway during the first year of this campaign.”
“The gym expansion, building of the wrestling facility and creation of the Trojan Performance Training Center are more examples of the standard of excellence that permeates through El Dorado Union High School District and Oak Ridge High School,” said Burke. “This is yet another excellent example of how all of our school stakeholders have worked together to provide the very best facilities for our students.”