Calvary ready to debut new facility

What a way to get the new year off on the right foot.

When the Calvary Lutheran basketball teams take to the court Saturday night, it’ll be a new era on a new court.

And what a court it is.

The school is putting the finishing touches on an expansion project that’s been years in the making, but less than a year in the execution. An extremely efficient construction job will have the Lions and Lady Lions playing on their new home court less than one year after work began.

“We’re tremendously excited,” said Mark Buffington, the boys head coach and also the school’s athletic director. “There’s a sense of pride about it, a good sense of pride. Not arrogance, but pride in the accomplishment.”

A glass-walled entryway leads to an auditorium area where chairs are have been assembled for Sunday’s consecration and dedication. They’re located in an area that faces the double-sided stage area that also opens up to the gym area.

“It’s not just the gymnasium,” Buffington said. “We’ve got a great facility. There’s a great auditorium with a neat design, you can look at it from both sides. We’ve got three more classrooms we’ve added and a cafeteria area we’ll eventually be in. … We’ll also have a weight room back (behind the gym), which is huge for us. That will be utilized by all of our sports programs.

“Just having an indoor facility so whenever track or cross country or baseball needs it when the weather’s bad, this will help all of our programs.”

Three years after breaking ground on what was known as Phase 1, the existing campus for Calvary, leaders decided it was time to embark on Phase 2.

“It’s been a long process,” said John Engelbrecht, Calvary’s executive director. “We spent a lot of time three years ago planning so that Phase 2 would be seamless, we could continue being in classes and such.

“A lot of the infrastructure was done back then. Then it was just a lot of sitting down and saying, ‘What can we afford? What can we do? We’ve had a great master plan to make it work.”

The second phase of the project cost roughly $2.2 million, with the work being done by Verslues Construction.

“We figured it out to be about 90 dollars a square foot, so we feel very good about that. We wanted to be wise stewards,” Engelbrecht said. “… Verslues Construction as the builder and Dan Sanning as the foreman have done phenomenal things. It’s kind of amazing, because they went through the rain, then the hot weather and now through the cold weather. But now it’s a done process.”

One of the biggest advantages to the facility is its adaptability.

“Right now we have 287 chairs set up in the auditorium, and we can fit probably another hundred in there,” Engelbrecht said. “That’s a big space. It will be great for Sunday — hopefully we’ll have a big crowd here for the dedication.

“And we can use it for things like dances — we’re talking about having a music group here, like The Homestead Pickers from Silver Dollar City or something something like that. We can put a nice crowd in there.”

With the finishing touches getting done during the holiday break, it’s been a nice present for everyone associated with the school.

“It’s hard to describe the feelings, everybody has so much excitement for it,” Engelbrecht said. “I’m excited for the kids because they left before Christmas and some of them haven’t been back. They are going to walk in and it’s going to be something.”

And it’s not just the big things, it’s also the little touches.

“We’ll start with some ceremonies at 5:30 p.m. and opening tip around 6 o’clock on Saturday,” Buffington said. “We’ll do a ceremonial first tip and put that ball in a trophy case. I told the kids that and one of them said, ‘We’re going to have a trophy case?’ And I said, ‘Yes we will. I’m not sure where we’re going to put it, but we are going to have one.’”

Jonathan Kueck, the girls basketball coach, said this is one of those memories most high-schoolers aren’t lucky enough to be a part of — the first game in your school’s new gym.

“They’re excited,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep it light, tell them this is just another game. They’re already going to be nervous and I don’t want them to make things worse.”

The basketball teams have had some time to get acclimated to the new court, taking part in practices this week, but the newness definitely hasn’t worn off. And Kueck is hoping that doesn’t happen for a long time.

“I’ve told the girls when we walk on this court, you respect this court. We don’t want to ever take it for granted,” he said. “We want to make sure someone doesn’t come in here and just walk all over us without playing with heart.”

And while the focus is now on moving forward, Buffington was quick to thank those who helped out Calvary in the preceding years.

“We’ve had some great support from other churches in allowing us to use their facilities, and we really appreciate that,” he said. “Trinity Lutheran, first and foremost, and then Union Hill Baptist, using their gym for the boys’ practices and Faith Lutheran, the girls using that for their practices.

“Now we can actually be in our own facility and that’s a great feeling.”

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