It's been a long 14 years without a field house, but now athletes and coaches at Eastside High School have a brand new athletic facility with state-of-the-art weight lifting equipment, plenty of office space, locker rooms and large storage areas.
Eastside administrators welcomed students, parents, coaches, booster club members and teachers to the building's grand opening Friday evening.
Principal Robert Daria expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped raise the building.
"The best part about this for me is seeing people come together to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons," Daria said.
When head football coach Rick Hurst came to Eastside a bit more than two years ago, he said the facility was merely a dream and also thanked everyone who made it come true.
"I don't care if it was picking up a paint brush, a mop or a broom," Hurst said. "Thank you so much."
Previously, the weight room was housed in the gymnasium facility, which athletes in every sport struggled to share.
Scott Hubbard, vice president of the EHS booster club, said the almost 6,000 square-foot facility nearly triples the size of old weight room and office area.
Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Dennis Roddenberry said the new field house frees up space in the gymnasium for sports actually played there. He expects the old weight room to accommodate an aerobics room and a wrestling practice space in the winter.
Roddenberry said it has been a while since he coached, but the students' excitement for sports and the community's bigheartedness reaffirms his passion for high school athletics year after year.
"Above all this is a testament to your love and concern for these kids," Roddenberry said.
The building is not just for football players, according to Hubbard. The field house also includes a girls' locker room and showers, and athletes in any sport or students in physical education classes can use the equipment.
"Some of the kids in the weight classes are not even athletes," Hubbard said. "They just want to stay physically fit or try out next year."
Hubbard said the building took two-and-a-half years of planning and collaborative efforts on the part of the Newton County Board of Education and members of the community.
He said the support of the BOE as well as the donation of time, materials and money from numerous other parents, companies and organizations created the facility.
"I had checks just show up - some were small and some were big," Hubbard said.
He said he was simply amazed at the outpouring of generosity of the community and parents, as well as from the students who will use the field house.
"The kids even contributed to their own building," Hubbard said, "and I think that's wonderful because it gives them a sense of pride of ownership knowing they moved that block or helped out in some other way."