DCSportsFan has been closely following the buzz surrounding the renovations and expansions made to the athletics center of Episcopal High School (EHS) in Alexandria, Virginia. We’ve already posted a press release and added a discussion about the center to our active forum.
Now, we’re pleased to provide a more in-depth description of the athletics center and information about the recent dedication that took place on October 8, 2010. We’d like to thank EHS staff for their contributions to this story, including Christina Holt, Director of Communications, Kathy Howe, Assistant Director of Communications, Bob Eckert, Director of Development, and Coach Jim Fitzpatrick.
It all started with a promise made to the students. That promise has now become a reality…
It’s our turn to advance The Promise [Episcopal’s capital campaign to raise funds for different aspects of Episcopal’s educational needs]. To lead the campaign that we started years ago. Through competition and failure [in sports], our students learn teamwork and responsibility. In spring 2009, we began renovating the Centennial and building a brand new facility. [Once the renovations are completed,] students will achieve more as athletes than they thought. A promise is a bond. A commitment to fulfill a mission.
These prophetic words are excerpts from the EHS Promise video. What started out as a promise was fulfilled in 2010 and celebrated with athletics and a dedication of the school’s newly renovated athletics center.
Dedication & Celebration on October 8, 2010
On October 8, 2010, the Episcopal community kicked off a formal dedication of the athletics center accompanied by a full day of celebrating the importance of athletics in the history, tradition, and culture of the school.
Many athletics and festive activities took place throughout the day, including: tours of the new and renovated athletics facilities, barbecue accompanied by bluegrass music on Pool Field, and varsity field hockey and football games being played at the Hummel Bowl stadium.
The pivotal and most influential celebratory activity of the day turned out to be a school-wide assembly with members of the Titans football team from the T.C. Williams High School (from Alexandria) from 1971 and their coach, Herman Boone.
The visit with the 1971 Titans team proved to be a historic, sentimental memory walk into yesteryear when current art teacher David Douglas, also a former Titans football player, introduced his former coach, Herman Boone, and his team.
Student attendees learned that the team’s true triumphs were not the fact that they were memorialized in a Hollywood movie Remember the Titans. The critical issue was in dealing with the realities of racial integration through busing at that time, which led to mixing of the races on the athletics field, and the ultimate gaining of values of “respect, diversity, and teamwork [at a time when those values were] not popular.”
This visit taught the students about “the importance of athletics and the bonds and lessons that can emerge from being involved with a team.”
History of the Athletic Center
The Centennial Gymnasium, at the heart of the EHS Athletic Center renovation and expansion project, was first built in 1939, but not expanded until the 1960s, when the Flippin Field House was added. The gym served as the principal location for hosting competition games for all indoor sports for many years.
According to Christina Holt, Communications Director at EHS, “a lack of practice space had been our biggest issue [thereby prompting the need for greater expansion] with five teams playing on one court.”
Despite persistent space issues, however, EHS triumphed over the next 40 years, after having introduced co-education with its first 48 female students in 1991, increasing enrollment by 50 percent (with a current female enrollment rate of 45 percent of the student body), and doubling the number of athletics interscholastic teams.
Renovations Add New Features
Thanks to extraordinary renovations and expansion efforts and a fulfillment of the EHS Promise, the EHS Athletics Center is now a 6,000 square-foot facility prominently featured throughout the 130-acre campus.
The major components of the center are as follows:
- Hummel Bowl, a 2,800-seat stadium (synthetic field turf)
- Hoxton Track, a six-lane, 400-meter track (synthetic surface)
- 12 Shuford tennis courts (all-weather tennis courts named after EHS alumnus)
- Cooper Dawson baseball diamond (named after EHS alumnus)
- 8 playing fields for outdoor sports (two with field turf, two with Bermuda grass)
- Softball field
- Outdoor swimming pool
The indoor facilities of the athletic center include five major subdivisions:
1. The Centennial Gymnasium, which is intended for indoor sports such as volleyball, and boasts several features:
- Two main courts, for basketball and volleyball, respectively
- The Hall of Fame room, whose purpose is to celebrate the history of sports at EHS through showcases containing sports memorabilia, recognition photos, and trophies, and
- Classrooms in the lower level near the locker rooms, giving coaches ample opportunities to review team games in spacious comfort.
2. The Flippin Field House, which features:
- 200-meter track (spike-resistant competition surface)
- 3 basketball courts
- 3 indoor tennis courts (NCAA-compliant)
- Batting cage
3. The Goodman Squash Center, with its 9 squash courts (international-size)
4. Wrestling cage (renovated to double the mat capacity)
5. Ainslie Arts Center Dance Studio, which offers regular dance classes, but is shared equally by athletes as well.
Additional components within the indoor facilities are as follows:
- Fitness center (modular weight training on Life Fitness cross trainers and cardiovascular machines)
- Free-weight room (professionally staffed with a weight room schedule)
- Team locker rooms
- Offices for the athletics department, allowing athletics directors of boys’ and girls’ programs to hold coaching sessions and conferences.