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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Does Ripley High's gymnasium need a new look after all of these years?

  • Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered.
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  • Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered.
    In the case of the Ripley Health Center (Ripley High Gymnasium), it's what Father Time ordered. The fifty-ish year old structure has held up pretty well overall. Unfortunately, I'm sorry Ripley High, but your gym has all the charm of a prison yard.
    By all accounts, it was 1994 when former Viking hoops coach Randy Anderson and company put a coat of paint on the upper 2/3 of the walls.
    The "Welcome to Ripley High" motif scrawled in blue across the home locker-side wall has served its purpose well. It's time for the current generation of students and administration to put their stamp on their turf.
    While Chase Fischer is likely the most decorated hoopster this county will ever see, there is not a trace of the State Player of the Year and McDonald's All-American's heroics on the walls of the gym itself to inspire those who have come after him.
    I respect Ripley's decision to go digital with the flat-screen to honor student athletes as you enter the school but it appears to be limited in it's content.
    I am all about technology and space saved but there is something about a crusty old dusty trophy case that gets me fired up.
    When I traveled to Magnolia High last year to cover a Red Devil hoops game, I studied their bulky old cases that honored their standout athletes.
    I was eventually booted from the building by a custodian (very nicely I might add) as they were about to lock up. I know I am not alone in my penchant for crusty old photos and trophies.
    While Ripley doesn't have a rich basketball tradition, the boys last tasted the State Tournament in 1996 under the guidance of Anderson and the girls went to the big show in 2003 and 2010 under then head coach Steve Hunt, There have been 1000 point scorers and All Staters who should grace the walls of the Health Center. I don't think many would argue that point.
    I'm not just talking basketball either. I realize that the wrestlers have their own shrine of sorts in the Chancy Walker building thanks to a kind donation from Dr. Nick Bicak.
    It would be nice to see something in the gymnasium to give a positive nod to the rich Viking Wrestling tradition. The gymnasium at any school is a place of congregation and multi-purposes. During winter sports it is where the community gathers.
    I chatted with Viking wrestling coach Matt Smith about this just before his Fearless Wrestling Camp began earlier this summer.
    "I think it's really important to provide something visual for our guys (Chancy Walker Building) and give them a sense of history and who came before them. Knowing where you came from is important when moving forward."
    Page 2 of 2 - Indeed, well put coach Smith.
    With so many sports offered at Ripley, one of the largest schools in the state of West Virginia, I realize there is limited space in any prep gymnasium but that is why you honor the best of the best.
    That should be applied to teams and athletes alike in the design stages..
    So, who is responsible for organizing such a monumental task? Coaches? Athletic Director?
    I cornered Ripley principal Will Hosaflook and asked him if there were any plans to give the old girl a makeover.
    "Absolutely. This is something that I want to do and do it right. It takes some planning and design.
    It definitely should be done in the summer while school is out. You have to tip your hat to Coach Mick Price at Ravenswood and what he has done in The Pit.
    The atmosphere is incredible. This will be a priority for us next year," said Hosaflook who was a multi-sport star at Ripley High and played his college football at Marshall University.
    It sounds like Ripley is going to tackle the task collectively and have a gameplan.
    I will volunteer a couple of days of my time to the cause. I don't want to sit and complain about it, I want to be part of the solution.

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