A project years in the making has finally become a reality.
Callaway’s new multi-purpose athletic facility is open for business.
While the facility has been in use for the past few weeks, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, with coaches, school officials, members of the Troup County Board of Education, and others in attendance.
The facility, which was paid for through funds raised through the E-Splost, a sales tax designed to fund school projects, includes an artificial-turf indoor practice facility, locker rooms for boys and girls, meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art training facility, and much more.
An upgrade was also done to the weight room in the Callaway High gym.
Pete Wiggins, the head football coach and athletic director at Callaway High, said the facility is going to be a huge benefit for athletes in all sports at the school, and he’s been thrilled to see their reactions so far.
“To see young men and women come into this building, and to see their faces light up, I wish you could experience that,” Wiggins said. “To see them come in the weight room in the gym, and to see their expressions and to hear the words, you see why it’s all worth it, and why it’s all come together, and what a benefit it is for our community.”
Wiggins has been working on the project for years.
He toured different facilities across the state, he talked to other coaches on the high-school and college level, and after the funds were approved, he worked closely with the architects on the designs.
Construction began on the project in July of 2013, and about a year later, the facility was ready to go.
“Back in the spring for our football banquet, coach Gus Malzahn was our speaker,” Wiggins said. “Before the banquet, he came up and wanted to tour the building, and he referred to the building as a game-changer. He said the word game-changer several times. I refer to it as a life-changer. I think the lives of so many kids today, and for years to come, will be affected by this building right here in so many ways.”
One of the speakers on Wednesday was Sheila Rowe, a member of the Troup County Board of Education.
Rowe, a key proponent in getting the project off the ground, said the facility adds to the legacy of Callaway High.
“This was a barren track of land generously donated to us by the Callaway foundation,” Rowe said, harkening back to the early days of Callaway High nearly 20 years ago.
Rowe added that “we stand poised today to expand those traditions, as we dedicate this state-of-the-art, multi-purpose athletic facility, a place where we will mold our young athletes, their minds and their charccters into strong men and women, and into our future leaders.”
Rowe said the “facility is the dream of Pete Wiggins, and this school’s administration, who have helped Pete foster his dream and supported him and encouraged him. I am so proud of Pete and what he means to the Callaway High family.”
Rowe also emphasized that the project never would have come to fruition if not for the people of Troup County.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of our taxpayers,” Rowe said.
Cole Pugh, superintendent of the Troup County school system, called it “really a great day for the Troup County school system, and for Callaway High School. I know how important extra-curricular activities are to a successful campus, and school system.”
John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent for operations in the Troup County school system, remembers “the day the plans first landed in my office.”
He’d been told it was a “little project,” but when he saw the plans he realized the scope of it.
“Fortunately, we did have the SPLOST dollars to do that,” Radcliffe said. “We had an excellent architectural group come in to look at it.”
Radcliffe said Wiggins was heavily involved in the project from concept to completion.
“Mr. Wiggins was here daily with his hardhat, making sure that each brick was laid perfectly in line,” Radcliffe said.
After getting a look at it, Radcliffe called it “a great facility.”
Lauren Wilson, Callaway High’s principal, said the facility is a terrific addition to an already special place.
“Our faculty and our staff that’s here, that’s part of who we are. We are red and black, we are the C as we like to call ourselves,” Wilson said. “And more important, we want to be Callaway, not just in our community, not just in our families, not just with our students, we want it to be who we are. We want it to be our brand. We’re continuing those traditions. We know this facility is going to allow us to take that even further.”
Wiggins said the facility will be put to good use thanks to the dedicated coaches at the school.
Wiggins asked each of the coaches in attendance at the ceremony to raise their hands so they would be recognized.
“The importance that these people who had their hands up, in whatever sport, whatever activity that they coach, that they teach, is instrumental in making a building like this, and building the tradition at Callaway High, and ultimately building kids’ lives, and making them go on and be successful,” Wiggins said. “It’s in their heart. This school is in their heart. And these kids are in their heart, and I greatly appreciate you guys for the dedication you put toward this school.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 (ext. 232) or on Twitter @lagrangesports