Athletics Under Construction

The District continues construction on a new main gym for BVNW.

Photo+of+the+construction+progress+for+the+new+main+gym+at+Northwest%2C+Dec.+8.

Lila Vancrum

Photo of the construction progress for the new main gym at Northwest, Dec. 8.

Rachel Hostetler, Online Chief Writer

The former staff parking lot of Blue Valley Northwest has been closed since the beginning of the 2021 school year due to the construction of a new main gym for the school. 

Senior varsity boys basketball player Joey Robinson said he is excited for younger athletes to have the opportunity to play in the gym, and said the program is deserving of the new gym. 

“I think we’re getting a new gym because basketball has been a very important thing here at this school for a long time, and we’ve had the same gym for a long time,” Robinson said. “The school realized it was a good idea to give something back to the basketball program.” 

Robinson said there is a need for the additional gym because the existing gyms can sometimes have scheduling issues.

“During practices, multiple times out of the week, we would have to switch gyms and do a bunch of other stuff to make sure everyone got their gym time, including the girls’ and younger teams,” Robinson said. 

Girl’s basketball coach Carissa Alexander said that many surrounding Districts have three gyms, and said that they are proven to be effective for practice purposes- so students won’t have to get to school so early, or stay so late. 

“Our freshman boys team is practicing at like 5:30 in the morning- so with an extra gym they can go after school like everybody else,” Alexander said. 

Junior varsity girls basketball player Claire Suchma agreed and said the different basketball teams would have to juggle the gym space. 

“What we usually do is to let the girl’s have the main gym first for an hour or an hour and a half while the boys varsity and [junior varsity team] will be in the Aux [gym]. Then, we switch it off halfway through our practices,” Suchma said. 

The current main gym would get extremely packed when it did not have enough room for all of the students during assemblies or games, according to Suchma. 

“For the boys team especially, it’s overflowing. There’s not enough seats for people to sit down,” Suchma said.

Chad Luikart, the assistant director of facilities and operations at Blue Valley, said the anticipated completion date of this construction project is Aug. 8, 2022. 

“We started the first of November, and so far we are getting all the utilities in place for underground systems like sanitary sewer, electrical and gas lines,” Luikart said. “So far, we are off to a great start.” 

Once the underground systems are completed, Luikart said construction will begin on above-ground construction. 

“Currently they are doing all of the underground utilities, and getting ready to get the floor slat boards so that we can start precast panels or the wall partitions by the middle of December,” Luikart said. 

Blue Valley’s Director of Facilities and Operations, Jake Slobodnik, also addressed the need for the new gym, which he said will cost around 8 million dollars. 

“The biggest reason for the new gym is the capacity issue in the existing competition gym,” Slobodnik said. “That gym holds only 1400 people, and we’ve seen throughout the history of that gymnasium that we’ve had to turn away students and staff trying to attend, whether that’s an athletic event or another activity’s event.”

While Slobodnik said the new gym has a 1900-person seating capacity, even more will be able to take shelter in the event of adverse weather conditions. 

  “It is also designed as an ICC 500 storm shelter, with a capacity that will allow up to 2500 people to seek refuge in the gymnasium during a storm event,” Slobodnik said. 

Alexander said she is pumped for the new gym, as a coach who is in the gym for three to four months of the year, in addition to seven weeks during the summer.

“Everyone always likes to get new stuff. I think that starting new traditions in the gym would be something that would be pretty cool,” Alexander said.