The Board of Education unanimously voted to name the Heritage High School gym after the late Heritage basketball coach Curtis Bell at the Dec. 17 BOE meeting.
Bell was the head coach at the J.P. Carr high school before integration and stayed on after integration at the J.P. Carr middle school until Heritage opened in 1976. He remained at Heritage for nearly 30 years until his retirement in 1994, averaging 16.5 wins a year during his coaching career. Bell died three years ago.
The Progressive Club of Conyers initially proposed naming a building at Heritage after the coach, finding it a fitting tribute for the community leader.
Coach and City Councilman Cleveland Stroud was a close friend of Bell's off the court, although they were technically rivals on the court when Rockdale and Heritage high schools played each other.
"Even though we were opponents on the floor, we never lost our friendship," said Stroud. He and Bell were among the first black coaches in Georgia's public schools after integration.
"He was quite a guy," said Stroud. "He was very instrumental in saving the lives of quite a few athletes. He was the head coach of girl's softball for a few years. At Heritage he coached football, basketball and track. He was just a positive influence on all of his students."
Although the newly revised guidelines on naming facilities prohibits naming buildings after a deceased person until at least five years after their death, after discussing the issue the board determined it had the final say on naming policy.