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Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Scott County Central's new gym honors longtime coach

Sunday, September 25, 2005

(Photo)
Scott County Central physical education teacher David Heeb watches his seventh hour students stretch during class.
MORLEY -- It may lack a few minor details, but for the most part, the new gymnasium at Scott County Central High School is ready to see some action.

"We're just tying up some loose ends and wires that maybe need connections, but it's near completion," said Mark Freed, president of the Scott County Central Board of Education.

In April 2004, voters in the Scott County Central School District approved a $1.9 million general obligation bond issue for the construction of a new gym as well the construction of a Junior High wing for the seventh and eighth grade students and the expansion of the Scott Central Early Learning Center, both of which have already been completed.

Located at the south side of the school, the new Ronnie Cookson Gymnasium will be able to seat 1,100 spectators. The facility was named after the legendary high school basketball coach who led players to a record 12 state championships at Scott County Central.

The idea to name the gym after Cookson was something discussed by both the district's board of education and the community, Freed recalled.

"We talked to some people in the community, and nobody is more deserving than Ronnie," Freed said. "The time he's dedicated and the motivation he's given the kids over the years -- there's just no one else that deserving."

According to boys basketball coach David Heeb, the biggest difference between the existing gym, which was built in 1958, and the new one is air conditioning.

"It was so unbelievably hot in there, and I always felt that was a big advantage to us when we played," said Heeb, a graduate and former basketball player of Scott County Central. "It made us work hard. I hope with the new gym we won't lose that hard work ethic."

In addition to air conditioning, the new gym provides two new locker rooms, a new weight room and a much larger concession and lobby area with a new entrance into the gymnasium.

The two remaining locker rooms from the old gym were updated with new plumbing and showers. The four locker rooms enable the school to host tournaments, too.

"It's a great facility -- top of the line, as far as high school gyms," Heeb said. "We're very appreciative, and we know all of the people who will benefit from it didn't necessarily have anything to put into it, but it will definitely be appreciated."

Senior basketball player Pershard Owens, 17, said it was time for an update at the school.

"It's exciting and we're happy about it," said Owens, who is also the student body president. "The younger kids -- some of their parents played in the older gym and wanted their kids to play in it, but this will be better."

Before the new gym was added, boys and girls teams would alternate using the existing gym and the elementary gym/cafeteria. Physical education classes would also share. The routine will stay the same, but now there will be three gyms to share. As for who gets to use the new gym, practices will be alternated between girls and boys teams.

The new gym -- and junior high wing -- was definitely needed, Freed said. "There's a certain buzz in the new gym, and the kids -- they appreciate the new things and you can just tell everybody's working hard. The teachers and students both are hard at it," Freed said.

Plans for an official dedication of the gym are still under way, according to superintendent Dr. Joel B. Holland.

"Basketball has been a big sense of pride for over 30 years here -- and a big part of that was developed by Ronnie, and we're very pleased by that," Holland said.

Holland also noted the state-of-the-art technology incorporated into the new junior high wing is also beneficial to the school.

"Both the gym and junior high wing have brought a lot of pride to the school -- and the community has really supported them," Holland said. "A lot of times communities are hesitant to support a bond issue, but the community has really stood behind it."