Community Gathers to Celebrate New Facility at Lake Shore
Official grand opening brings alumni, officials, fans together.
Spectators and fans shuffled in and looked around in awe.
"It's very, very nice," St. Clair Shores resident, Allison Douglas, 33, said. "I'm impressed."
Longtime Lake Shore supporter Cecil Kasperwicz, 61, echoed the sentiments of many who came to the official opening of the new Lake Shore High School Performance Gym and Commons when he said it was magnificent and much-needed.
"I just think it's about time," Kasperwicz said. "The kids deserve a place like this to compete in and play for their school at. These kids need things they can be proud of. They can be proud of this gym. It's great."
The new facility, according to Lake Shore Schools Director of Facilities and Transportation Donald Kling, is state of the art, and something he and the entire community are proud of.
"It is really something all of us associated with the project is very proud of," Kling said. "To think about it, we started this we some sketches on paper and to see it turn into this incredible facility—it's really amazing."
Lake Shore athletic director John Hartley agreed.
"It's a great facility for sports," Hartley said. "Once the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) instructed us to switch seasons, we knew we would have to do something about the facilities we had because they just weren't what we would need to accommodate these changes."
In June 2009, thanks to a bond extension, the $4.3M project broke ground.
The project, which involved numerous people from design firms to construction companies to input from the players and coaches, was on schedule and on budget, Kling said
"There are always a few hang-ups, the bleachers were late getting in and little things like that," Kling said. "Overall though, it was very smooth."
A few elements of the project are very noticeable, such as the commons area—a place where people already gathered to discuss the new facility, to the higher ceiling in the gym, meaning gone are the days of volleyballs bounding off the roof, delaying games.
"The ceiling is much higher," Kling said. "But what I'm really proud of is the commons area. Before, you literally walked into the gym through the backdoor of the school. That always bothered me. Now, we have this beautiful Commons area that says 'Welcome to Lake Shore High School.' I really like how that turned out."
Another difference is one basketball fans will surely take note—a 94-foot court.
"It's noticeable," Lake Shore boys basketball coach Todd Stevens said. "That extra 10 feet makes a difference. Hopefully, that's give us a distinct homecourt advantage."
Most high school courts are 84 feet from baseline to baseline, but there is really no set regulation set by the MHSAA.
As fans streamed into the gymnasium, as the junior-varsity game came to a close, there were plenty of smiles to go around and anticipation about the event.
"It's very exciting," Stevens said. "It's a real benefit to our team, and to the entire school and community."
The event, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and acknowledgment of a slew of guests, including state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, St. Clair Shores Mayor Robert Hison and former Lake Shore basketball coach and current De La Salle coach Greg Esler. Esler led the Shorians to a state championship in 1994.
A moving presentation to Delia Martin might have been the most memorable moment of the evening, though. The crowd grew silent as Hartley presented Martin with a pair of plaques in appreciation of her donation.
Martin donated the signage hanging along the baseline walls, signs that recognize the accomplishments of past Lake Shore High athletic teams. Along with this, however, she also donated the American flag that hangs proudly from the wall on the south side of the gym, just above the backboard.
The flag was the same one draped over her husband George's casket when the Lake Shore graduate (Class of 1957) passed away in 2005.
"I'm so proud, and I know my husband would be proud to," Martin said.
Although the squad fell to Fraser High, 50-38, the evening was undoubtedly a success.
"We played hard," Stevens said. "They just outplayed us, that's all. I wish we could've won the game, but overall it was a very good night for Lake Shore and the community."
Senior DeWayne Cook led the Shorians charge with 14 points, while fellow seniors Ray Jamison and Josh Bianco chipped in with seven points each.
"We learned a lot from this game," Stevens said. "We're going to get back to practice and keep improving. That's what we have to do."