SCC Planning Gym Expansion
Buoyed by the rapid success of its athletics program, Sandhills Community College has announced plans to expand its James E. "Buddy" Heins Gymnasium located in the school's Dempsey Student Center.
The expansion is due in part to Flyers' basketball team, which last year won the national championship for its level.
"After we won the national championship last year, a donor approached me," College President John Dempsey said. "We talked about building a fieldhouse, but that didn't work out, so we pursued other opportunities."
And with the help of various donors from the community, the school's alumni and in-house efforts from the Sandhills Community College Foundation, money was raised for the project. Most of the money for the $1.2 million expansion came from longtime school supporter Bill Russell, said school athletics director Aaron Denton.
The current gym is about two-thirds the size of a regulation college basketball floor, which meant that home basketball games couldn't be held on campus and had to be played instead at The O'Neal School.
Expansion plans include adding seating for more than 500 fans and a full-length college-size basketball court (94 feet by 50 feet). When the Heins gym was dedicated in 2005, it was intended to be used as a physical education/recreation gym.
"When it was originally built there were no plans to add intercollegiate athletics," said Denton, who arrived to direct the school's athletics program from its inception in 2008. "Since I've been here, the use of the building has just exploded. PE classes have grown and been added, it's not just the athletic program."
The project is still in the design phase, said Denton. Mark Wright is the architect and New South Construction will be the contractor.
The expansion will take place by knocking out a side wall and turning the court perpendicular to the current court, Denton said. There will be six basketball backboards around the new court. The women's volleyball team will have two full-size courts available for use.
"It's going to be a great place," said Denton. "It's not only going to be good for the teams, but good for the college community. It will add to our PE program, it will provide a bigger space for the educational component of the school. The addition of the athletic program has come full circle, with the benefits being felt by the whole college community."
The Flyers have been using the gyms at The O'Neal School, located across the street from the community college and the relationship has been a successful one, according to Denton.
"Oh, my goodness," Denton said. "I can't tell you how great that's (relationship with O'Neal) been. They have gone above and beyond what needed to be done to make this happen. We would not be where we are, from a basketball standpoint, without that relationship."
The school reinstated its athletic program five years ago with the introduction of men's basketball, women's volleyball and both women and men's golf. The volleyball team was the first to step on the national stage when it made it to the eight-team national tournament three years ago.
SCC is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in Division III.
The crowning achievement for the young program was last year's run to a NJCAA national championship by the basketball team. The Flyers finished 30-6 while taking the national crown with a dramatic run through the national tournament where they won their first two games by a total of two points.
This season, the Flyers started the year ranked No. 1 in Division III. Currently they are ranked seventh in the nation and are sporting a 17-3 mark.
The volleyball team has played its games in Hines gym, but the small size of the facility made it nearly impossible to get spectators into the gym. That problem will be fixed by the expanded gym, said Denton.
"There will be plenty of room for spectators," said Denton. "It will boost support for both programs. It will allow us a lot of opportunities for sponsorship and entertaining donors. It will allow us to hold special events here. One thing we are considering is having high school events in the new gym."
Construction is slated to begin in early spring, Denton said, with the work being done in four to six months.
"It's going to help with the student involvement with the teams, with the athletic program," Dempsey said. "The athletic program has been a campus-wide phenomenon. The whole campus community has been part of this - the students, the faculty and staff.
"It's going to be nice to be in our own home. The kids will be able to come out and defend their own turf."
Contact Hunter Chase at (910) 693-2477 or email@example.com.
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