All day long students run up and down the floor of Payson High School’s old gym.
One physical education class after another uses the gym.
But the floor needs regular maintenance the school district just hasn’t been able to afford.
So, several groups stepped in to help recently.
Thanks to their efforts, they raised $20,000 needed for the three-week project that should begin later this month and wrap up in June. The district contracted Arizona Gym Floors to do the project.
Payson Golf Club held a golf tournament to raise money for the project, and Backwoods held a fundraiser. Keith Family Flooring, RVN3, the Mogollon Sporting Association and the MHA Foundation also donated to the project.
“WE DID IT!” posted Keith Family Flooring.
“I think it’s just awesome how some local people and groups saw a need and tackled it head on,” said Payson High Athletic Director Rich Ormand. “I am so grateful to RVN3, Keith Family Flooring, Axis Culture Group, MSA, Backwoods Grill and Payson Golf (Club) for making it happen. To be sure, there are others to be thanked as well, so if I left anybody out I apologize.”
“They set out to raise $20,000 in the month of April and we proudly donated $4,000 to the cause,” according to a Facebook post on the MHA Foundation’s Facebook page. “The awesome part is this ... THEY DID IT! With the help of other community nonprofits, local businesses, and generous citizens, those kiddos are getting a new gym floor in the old gym!”
Ormand said gym floors need to be maintained regularly, which is expensive. The school hasn’t been able to afford to maintain the floor.
“Gym floors need to be re-screened once a year, or at the least every other year to keep them in good shape and tacky for PE, basketball and volleyball needs,” he said. “That costs about $5,000 per gym. When a floor is tacky, you will hear a lot of squeaks as the players’ shoes grip the floors when they post up, stop, etc.
“The old gym floor has not been screened in, I believe, at least 10 years. As a result, the finish gets worn off. This creates a slippery surface, which is unsafe for PE, basketball and volleyball’s needs.
“Our old gym floor is so slippery now that just re-screening it is like putting a Band-Aid (on it). The best option for the safety of students and longevity of the floor is to take it back down to bare wood and repaint all the lines, markings, etc. and then add the Urethane topcoats to it. It will look and perform like a brand new floor.”
School officials hope to regularly maintain both the old gym and Wilson Dome floors in the coming years.
“Our goal going forward is to get one gym re-screened each year, so both the old gym floor and the dome gym floors get done on a rotating basis,” Ormand said.
RVN3 Foundation is a nonprofit promoting education through sports in the memory of former PHS standout student-athlete Richard “Bubba” Nielsen III. MSA is the Mogollon Sporting Association, a nonprofit with a mission of enhancing wildlife, environment, education and the local economy by supporting local quality game management, youth and local businesses.
The floor is the first and most important step in a goal of restoring the old gym to its former glory. The district hopes to replace the aging bleachers, repair or replace/upgrade the basketball backboards. The rubber around the edges of one is coming off. The walls also need painting.
“Our whole goal is just to polish this place up,” said PHS Principal Jeff Simon. “This was an important part of the history of Payson High School, so we want to make sure we do it up right for them.
“We just need to put some money and TLC into getting this gym back to what it was because anybody who graduated here spent a lot of time in this gym.”
It’s busiest in the winter months when Payson has home boys and girls basketball games, with three games in both the old gym and Wilson Dome.
“For any of the athletics, we need two gyms,” Simon said. “This one is used far more (than the dome). This one is used every day, five periods a day for (physical education).
“We’re super excited about how this is all going to turn out,” Simon said. “We’re glad to try and bring it back to its glory days, and the big start is right here on the floor. We are very fortunate to live in a community like this where people want to help.”
PUSD lead custodian Chad Miner echoed Simon’s sentiments.
“The biggest thing after the floor I think is the bleachers,” Miner said. “But the floor has been crying for help for a while and we’re super grateful for everything the community has done to help.”