The wait is finally over for Science Hill athletes and coaches. City and county officials and donors broke ground Saturday morning for the new athletic training facility.
The people in Johnson City waited nearly four years for this day, and now the high school's new 14,000 square foot facility is officially underway and will be ready for all student-athletes at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
The $2.1 million field house was unanimously approved by city commissioners in July. Tim Copenhaver has three children who will use the facility and says they're all excited. "This facility will help them as they grow [and] become more athletic in the things that they do with sports," adds Copenhaver.
Once it's complete, there will be four locker rooms, a weight room and coaches offices. The facility will be able to hold nearly 500 athletes at once, but Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin says not all of the money's there yet. "There still is a need for community involvement and community donations to help cover the debt service for the facility, but the facility is going forward and the facility should be done in time for the next football season," adds Van Brocklin.
Senior football player Brandon Westmoreland hopes to play college ball next year and although he'll graduate before the field house opens, he says it'll bring a lot of opportunities to the under classmen. "This is going to be the best facility obviously in Tennessee. It's gonna be really good. I mean, a lot of people have put a lot of effort into it, and money, and I mean, we're going to have one of the best facilities in the state... if not the country," says Westmoreland.
With construction underway, it's the start of a new era for athletes, coaches and the Johnson City community.
No official name has been selected for the field house.
Facility naming rights donor Jeff Bedard announced Saturday there's going to be a facility naming contest open to the public. The only rule - it can't be named after a person. The winning entry will be announced September 12 at the Hilltoppers first home game.