By Kyle Coppola
Leesburg High School Gym Renovations Coming Soon!
50 years is a long time!
When Leesburg became one of the first programs in Florida to end segregation of high schools in 1968, the school went through a big transition. Not only in the classrooms but the athletics program saw drastic change as well. One of the programs that saw the most change was the basketball program. The original gym was built when Leesburg was a small town in the middle of central Florida but over the years the town grew and so did the necessity for a new gym.
In 1978 Leesburg won its first basketball championship. The season turned out great and put Leesburg on the map. But one big problem existed. The Gym only held about 150 people comfortably. It was ok for parents but the gym lacked modern locker rooms, adequate seating and enough ventilation for games and fans wanting to watch the teams. The gym also lacked Air Conditioning and Portable Fans had to be brought in just to make the games bearable during October and November. The gym held so much heat though that fans were used even in winter months. It was time for a new gym and that’s exactly what happened.
Leesburg High School Gym Is Born
The new Gym at Leesburg High was completed around the 1980s. The court was laid down and became one of the most classic floors in all of
High School Basketball. Through the years the gym would see many teams come and go but it wasn’t until 2011 where the Yellow Jackets would claim their second Championship. The Yellow Jackets added their first back to back Championship seasons in 2016 and 2017.
All the while the gym went through many changes. Wooden bleachers were replaced with metal and plastic seats. The windows which were not strategically placed let in too much sunlight so those were blacked out, banners and other teams such as the Girls Basketball programs and volleyball teams also lifted championship trophies over the year all on the classic court that saw so many great athletes over the years.
Parts Of The Old Gym Floor Will Be Preserved
Keon Ellis might be the most famous player to come through Leesburg and currently plays for the Sacramento Kings. The court is coming to the end of its lifespan. It’s been a staple in the community for nearly 50 years and was laid a short 20ish years after segregation ended in the state. The court is battle-scared, beaten down and the gloss finish is almost non existent as the floor just couldn’t possibly last another season. So it’s now time to say goodbye to the old floor and hello to a much more modern floor that will certainly be welcomed by athletes and the community.
It’s hard to let go. Almost anyone who has been to Leesburg High School has seen the floor and played on it or even walked on it. You can literally feel the history in the gym as you step foot in there. But the good news for locals and graduates is that part of the original floor will be preserved. I had the chance to talk to Leesburg Athletic Director Spencer Hey and he told us that there are plans to preserve the center logo which will be displayed somewhere. There are also plans to save the classic baselines which have had many historic inbound plays over the years.
The Largest Gym Renovation In Two Decades!
Other parts of the gym to get renovated include fresh paint. The facility will be brightened up a bit. The banners will become more unison. Most importantly the gym will get a brand new sound system which has been a long time coming. The players, coaches and fans are very excited about that as games will sound better than ever before with the new system.
This will be the largest renovation of The Leesburg Gym in over two decades. The much needed facelift will enhance the facility and extend its life for the foreseeable future. It’s great to see the school investing in the already built properties instead of demolishing history. The football team recently just got a brand new clubhouse which utilizes an old locker room.
Leesburg High Makes Even More Improvements
The school also added a new weight and training center to accompany the existing weight room. The school likewise intends to keep a natural grass football field which is much better than field turf. The grass field has proven to be much safer on young athletes joints and provides cushion, where field turf has caused many injuries even in the NFL not to mention its plus 140 degree temperatures it causes during summer months. We commend Leesburg for its care about its athletes safety.
Overall we will miss the old gym floor. So much history will be torn up, but we are excited about the preservation of parts of the floor and seeing the brand new renovation project finished in time for the 2023 fall seasons. We wish The Leesburg Teams the best of luck on the remainder of their 2023 basketball season!
Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.
For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.
Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.
Leave A Comment